Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympics Weekend

Fashion Notes

I watched some swimming events. During the women's 400 meter IM, I noticed the Chinese swimmer was wearing the Speedo LZR swimsuit which has gotten a lot of attention recently, but had a piece of duct tape over the speedo label. I googled and found out that all of the Chinese swimmers, men and women, are wearing suits with little pieces of duct tape covering the Speedo logo. I don't know why (rumor is that it has something to do with sponsorships).

George W. Bush was at both of the U.S. basketball games over the weekend. He looked like a dork when he put the baseball cap on.

The U.S. men's and women's basketball teams both are wearing the same uniform, and it actually looks quite good. The jerseys are white (with the names also in white on the back, making them more or less illegible), and they are more form-fitting than the usual NBA and WNBA jerseys, which looks much neater and cleaner and more professional.

The Spanish men have a pretty boring looking uniform, but several of them have their first names on the back rather than their last names, which I think is very cool. It makes them seem more like rock stars. Also, all of the Spanish players wore white shoes to match the white uniforms, except for Juan Carlos Navarro who was sporting black shoes. Hmmn . . ..

Another interesting uniform choice on the basketball court is the one chosen by the Australian women. I think it looks a little bit silly, but perhaps it makes these women harder to defend, with no jersey to grab as they cut through the lane. I'm not sure.

There were some intriguing fashion choices in other sports, as well. While American women's field hockey players wear shorts, several of the other countries are sporting skirts/dresses that kind of look like tennis skirts. I don't know what effect that has functionally, but I assume it works for them since they stick to it. They do look pretty stylish.

In addition to shorts and tennis style skirts/dresses, I also noticed some teams have pleated skirts, as though they play for a private girls' school as opposed to playing in the Olympics. Again, I don't know the functionality of such sportswear, but I found it noteworthy from an Olympic-fashion standpoint.

Also, now that the events have begun Michael Phelps has gotten rid of that absurd mustache he was sporting last week.

In the NBA, it sometimes seems like certain teams have certain body-type preferences. For instance, Don Nelson has always had teams full of very lean players (Brandan Wright, Anthony Randolph), while Jerry Sloan seems to prefer beefier, thicker players (Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Matt Harpring). Well, in the international game this trend seems much more pronounced. For example, in the Spain-Greece matchup, it was hard not to notice that all of the Spanish players seemed to be long, lanky, and lean, while the Greek players were broader, more muscular, shorter, and stouter. And hairier. There is probably a unified theory to be made about style and body-types (Spain is quick, athletic, skilled; Greece is physical and rough; Utah is known for hard hits and hard screens; Golden State is known for running a lot and not getting many rebounds).

One last completely superficial note: I've been trying to choose teams to route for in each of the sports in the Olympics. For women's indoor volleyball, I think I'm rooting for Brazil, for purely aesthetic reasons.


It's hard not to notice during all the basketball games: I don't know what's going on with the floor, it seems crazy slippery. Every time a player falls over he/she slides like 10 feet. I hope it's not dangerous or anything -- already I've seen a few players go sliding when trying to plant their feet while driving to the basket.

Speaking of general observations about the basketball games, something seems off about the balls or the hoops -- perhaps because the rims are brand new, or maybe this is just how those weird international balls work, but rebounds have been coming off the rim in sort of irregular ways so far.

Games - Men

I got around to watching a few men's games. I missed the most exciting one, Argentina vs. Lithuania, but caught some of the others.

Germany vs. Angola: Chris Kaman destroyed Angola offensively with a series of hook shots, drop steps, up-and-unders, and so forth. Dirk Nowitzki is a really good shooter. Angola had a ton of trouble creating shots, they had several shot-clock violations and near-violations. One issue to watch with Kaman -- because of Angola's zone, he was effectively double-teamed on several of his shots. He was good enough against Angola to convert, but there were plays where a German teammate was wide open in the corner. Kaman has never been a great passer, and against better defenses this might be a limitation.

China vs. U.S.: The big reason to watch this one was to get a sneak peak at future Laker Sun Yue. He wore a red arm sleeve, which I liked. He didn't do much, he made a couple of threes and had a nice block on a Dwight Howard layup attempt in transition (yes, you read that correctly). Kobe guarded him for most of the game. Though he didn't have a huge impact on the game, there were some notable things to take away as a Lakers fan. Chief among them -- it was easy to forget that he is 6'9", because he has pretty quick feet and moves fluidly. He'll hopefully make a good defender some day. I didn't get to see him have to do too much with the ball, but he seems to have an acceptable handle.

China stayed in the game early with hot outside shooting, but they were hitting a lot of contested 3's just to stay close. Those dried up in the second half and then the game was over. U.S. team's defense was spectacular.

It was really nice to see Wang ZhiZhi still doing his thing. He's not the greatest player, and didn't really stick in the NBA, but at least he's still playing. Chen Jianhua seemed determined to get to the rim in every halfcourt set. He is quick enough to get there, but once there he's not big or creative enough to finish with much consistency -- at one point he had a layup attempt hit the shot-clock and go over the backboard. He also seems to be carrying the ball whenever he's dribbling.

Spain vs. Greece: Spain didn't start Pau Gasol. Reason? Unclear. Marc Gasol is sporting a mullet. I think that's important. Also, Rudy Fernandez looked great, Portland fans should be excited. Ricky Rubio looks kind of like Pete Maravich.

As for his game, he showed some nice flashes. He looks quick (although occasionally undisciplined) on defense, and he is a great ballhandler. It should be fun to see him match up with Chris Paul when Spain takes on the U.S..

The game itself was extremely physical. Greece's only chance in this game was to make it ugly, and they did everything they could, banging on the interior and setting hard moving screens that made their players look more like offensive linemen than basketball players. They lost anyways, but it's interesting to see how physical the international game is.

Also of note in this game: Clipper draftee Sofoklis Schortsanitis was playing, and this guy is enormous. He's listed at 6'9" and 344 lbs, and he looks every bit of it -- he has manboobs that make Eddy Curry jealous. At one point in the game, Jorge Garbajosa took a charge by standing in front of Schortsanitis as he barreled towards the basket. Garbajosa got the call, but he was sent flying into the basket support. This episode just solidified Garbo's status as one of the toughest players in the world. As for Schortsanitis -- I don't know if he'll ever make it over to the NBA, but if he does he could continue the tradition of big men who eat their way out of the league, following such luminaries as Bryant "Big Country" Reeves, Michael Sweetney, and Oliver Miller.

Games - Women

I only caught one of the women's games, U.S. vs. Czech Republic. The U.S. women look to be a very good team, and won this game easily. Diana Taurasi in particular looked very impressive. Candace Parker didn't have a great game, but her fellow rookie Sylvia Fowles played extremely well. Most of her gaudy numbers from the game (16 points, 14 rebounds) came in extended garbage time, but even in the meaningful parts of the game she just seemed physically dominant. Now that she's healed from her early season injury, I imagine she'll have a very successful 2nd half of the WNBA season.

Also, as with the men's games, this game was very physical -- much moreso than a WNBA game would be. Some of the players (Candace Parker, for example) seem to still be getting used to the physicality, although Taurasi and Fowles seemed to revel in it.

1 comment:

  1. hooray for president bush joining the u.s. men's pregame huddle before the china match!