And when we get to utilize it to massacre foreign countries on the basketball court, well, then it's just glorious.
In case you don't know, or can't stay up late enough to watch the games, the United States basketball team is once again on that Olympics quest, this time, participating in the FIBA Tournament of the Americas, attempting to qualify for Beijing in 2008.
And also, once again, we are using our finest ballers - guys that are so good, they don't even need a last name like LeBron, Carmelo or Kobe - to pummel the competition. And they are doing such an admirable job too. So far, the closest any team has come to the 2007 version of the “Dream Team” was Monday's 27-point nail biter with Mexico.
But even though the U.S.'s dominance is showing again amidst the spectacular dunks, nifty passes and a storm of 3s, does it really mean that USA basketball is back? It's been a while since Jordan, Magic and Bird coasted to Olympic gold in Barcelona in 1992. In 1996 and 2000, America still ran the table all the way to the top of the podium.
Since then, the rest of the world has not only caught up to us, but some countries, like Argentina and Lithuania, have left us in their own gold dust. After 1996, some of the NBA's finest refused to suit up for their country. After 2000, the results were disastrous.
There was no fear, no intimidation. Instead of players from other countries asking for our players autographs, like in 1992, they would concentrate on, get this, winning. How dare them.
America couldn't even medal. The low point, a sixth-place finish at the FIBA World Championships in 2002 where they only went 6-3 and then followed it up with a bronze medal showing at the Sydney Olympics in 2004 and another bronze at the World Championships in 2006. In both bronze medal cases, the U.S. still used professionals, another blow to the red, white and blue's ego.
Which brings us to today, where James and company are trying to restore USA basketball to its rightful place. Steps have been taken to ensure that America will be on top once again, like bringing in one of the best college coaches, Duke's head man Mike Krzyzewski, to lead the talented squad and making every member agree to a three-year commitment to USA Basketball.
That way, every one, as an American, knows their duty in this new escapade.
Yes, there are still a few flaws to the team. But Beijing is a year away, certainly enough time to iron out the wrinkles. The problem with previous teams was not that the U.S. didn't have the talent, it just wasn't molded and shaped the right way and in time, eventually, other teams found cracks.
Now that the proper care and time will be put into it, when 2008 rolls around, we still might not have a Dream Team, but it should cause a few nightmares.
JEFF TAEPKE can be reached at (740) 353-3101 ext. 242.