USA Men Fail to Qualify for Olympic 3×3 Hoops: Putting Another Nail in the Coffin of the “Basketball Cast Offs Can Win Handball Gold” Strategy

Another humbling USA Basketball defeat… another nail in the coffin for the basketball cast offs can win Olympic Handball Gold strategy

Another USA Basketball Failure

From the “In Case You Missed It” department, this past weekend the USA Men’s National Basketball Team failed in their quest to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Before you have a heart attack, rest assured that this was not the 5 on 5 traditional version of the game that Americans have dominated since the it was invented. No, this was the 3 on 3 version (3×3) of the game that was recently added to the Olympic Programme.

And, make no mistake, it’s not the same as the traditional game of basketball. 3×3 is played with just 3 players on on a half court so there’s more of a premium on 1v1 skills and long range shooting. Matches are played to 21 with baskets inside the arc worth 1 point and baskets behind the arc worth 2 points which effectively makes a 5×5 “3 pointer” the equivalent of a “4 pointer”.

But, despite the gimmickry, this is still basketball and it’s a little hard to fathom that the the U.S. failed to even qualify for the Olympics. This is our sport and we were eliminated in the Qualification Tournament Quarterfinals by the Netherlands… The Netherlands? Not a basketball country by any means. There have been only 6 Dutch players in NBA history and the Netherlands had never qualified for the Olympics before and even for the World Championships just once back in 1986.

Not Our Best Athletes…

Of course, the #1 reason (or excuse) for U.S. failure was that we didn’t compete with our best athletes. The U.S. 3×3 roster consisted of Dominique Jones, Robbie Hummel, Kareem Maddox and Joey King. Don’t feel bad if you don’t recognize anyone. These guys aren’t household names. Only Hummel has played in the NBA and that was just 2 nondescript years with the Timberwolves. It’s not like they aren’t good basketball players and probably very good 3×3 basketball specialists. In fact 2 of these athletes were part of the U.S. roster that won the 2019 World Championship.

Still… there’s little doubt that a select group of NBA players wouldn’t do better. Can you imagine Steph Curry or Damon Lillard playing the 3×3 game? For sure there are practicalities that preclude NBA participation. Although, it should be noted that the U.S. Women’s 3×3 team consisting of WNBA athletes qualified for the Olympics.

Basketball Cast Offs vs Basketball Cast Offs

So, who did our cast off basketball pros lose to in this basketball variant? The giant killers from Netherlands featured a roster that would not strike fear in anyone: Julian Jaring, Dimeo van der Horst, Arvin Slagter, and Jessey Voorn. If you research these guys just a little bit you’ll discover that they’ve had rather nondescript pro basketball careers, mostly in the Netherlands and best I can tell they aren’t playing 5×5 hoops anymore. I’m not sure what sort of salaries or more likely stipends they get for playing 3×3 basketball, but I doubt that it’s very much. One of the players even appears to be a personal trainer. So, the Netherlands didn’t send their best basketball players either. Yes, basically our USA basketball cast offs lost to Netherlands basketball cast offs. Good athletes whose pro careers didn’t pan out, but their skill set was ideal for the 3×3 variant. On the whole, I would bet USA cast offs are generally superior to the Netherlands, but as we can plainly see now, not that much better and clearly beatable.

The Relevance to Handball

So, why am I writing yet again about a Team USA Basketball Failure? Because it really, really illustrates just how absolutely and totally absurd the back of the napkin strategy that cast off U.S. pros from other sports could easily win Handball Olympic Gold.

Good gracious. I am getting sick and tired of explaining just how BAT SH** CRAZY such notions are. But, here goes with a little context and perspective.

We didn’t even qualify for the Olympics in a variant of basketball with cast off pros. A sport that we have totally dominated since it was invented. And, you think we can take similar cast off athletes from basketball and other sports and teach them to play handball, a sport they’ve never played before in a month, 6 months, 2 years, 4 years. That’s more than a little tougher than learning the aspects of a modified game of basketball for sure. Oh, and get this. Your manufactured team isn’t going to get to compete against other similar cast off pros. No, no, no, They will get to take on full time handball professionals that have been playing the sport their entire lives.

How can one even begin to reconcile the failure in 3×3 basketball with the idea that handball gold would somehow be a piece of cake?

Honestly, you know what the parallel is here? It would be roughly the same as former Netherlands handball players taking a crash course in basketball and planning on Olympic 5×5 basketball gold. Better start working on your long range jump shot, Luc Steins!

Previous Commentaries regarding the “Cast Offs” strategy and the need to understand that handball is a professional sport

  • USA Basketball with a Worst Ever World Championships. Does anyone Still Think that Similar Athletes Can Lead us to Handball Greatness: Link
  • Why a Residency Program at Auburn?: Reason #2: The U.S. had its Greatest Success with Residency Programs… True Statement, but that Success Occurred when Handball was only “Somewhat Professionalized.” Link
  • Could Lebron James Really become the the Best Handball Player in the World in Just 6 Months? (Part 1): Do I really have to Explain how Crazy that notion is? Link
  • Could Lebron James Really become the the Best Handball Player in the World in Just 6 Months? (Part 2): Why it’s just not Going to Happen; but what about Lebron Lite? Link