By John Randall
Basketball has been a part of American history since the 1800s. Dr. James Naismith invented the game in 1891 while teaching physical education at Springfield College in Massachusetts.
Naismith’s concept developed from a child’s game known as duck-on-a-rock, which involved attempting to knock a “duck” off a large rock by tossing another rock. Early basketball games were played with a soccer ball, using two peach baskets as goals.
In the decades since those simple beginnings, Americans have enjoyed high-level play from superb athletes ranging from Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Karl Malone to current superstars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
In recent years, the game known as an American sport has taken new strides worldwide. We see more diversity than ever in the National Basketball Association as teams look beyond U.S. borders to find new players and new ways to play the game.
Bringing in international players has changed basketball dramatically, and in a good way. Players from throughout the world bring a flavor to the game that Americans formerly saw only during the Olympics and Pan-Am Games.
One negative aspect, however, is that U.S. teams no longer dominate competitions. Remember the days of the “Dream Team,” when the United States never lost in international play? Today that is no longer the case.
International basketball teams have caught up, in part because playing in the NBA has taught international players how to compete. That means U.S. teams can no longer skate through international competitions and expect to win.
Is it safe to say that American players are still more talented than international players? The answer is no.
As more international players join the NBA, they will make their presence known and the game will continue to change.
The United States will never return to the days of the original “Dream Team.” However, I hope the increased international competition will inspire American players to take their game to new levels.
Maybe then, we will see another Team USA dominate in international play.