When your country hosts the Olympics, it’s good to provide competitors for each event. But this can also provide problems for the host country when it comes to team sports that the hosts aren’t particularly adept at. When Athens hosted the Summer Games in 2004, Greece had to put together an Olympic baseball team - which they did with mostly Greek-Americans. And when Nagano hosted the Winter Games in 1998, Japan had to assemble an Olympic ice hockey team - which they did with mostly Japanese-Canadians.
(Luol Deng certainly is)
Now that London will be hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics, the United Kingdom faces the same dilemma. Oh, they’ll do just fine in soccer, and they won’t have to worry about fielding baseball or softball teams, since neither is an Olympic sport anymore. But there is the still the matter of an Olympic basketball team.
And like Greece & Japan, Great Britain is turning their eyes toward North America in hopes of filling their national roster.
The BOSTON GLOBE reports that a couple of Chicago Bulls - Luol Deng & Ben Gordon - have already lined up to ball for the Brits. Former NBAer Pops Mensah-Bonsu and former Blazers draft pick Joel Freeland are also queuing up for the Queen, and Kelenna Azubuike of the Golden State Warriors may soon join them in representing the Union Jack.
However, it’s still not enough for England:
But in hopes of finding more talent, British Basketball is on the lookout for NBA personnel and other talented players born after Jan. 1, 1983, who have at least one parent with a British passport, thus making them eligible for the senior and under-20 teams.
“There are kids in America right now with parents with British passports that can play for our national team or under-20 teams,” said Ron Wuotila, British Basketball’s performance manager and head of basketball operations. “They might not be able to play for USA, but they can play for us.”
So, for any of you American hoopsters who want a shot at Olympic glory without having to challenge Kobe or LeBron for a roster spot - check with Mum & Dad about their passport status, start watching more BBC America, eat more steak & kidney pie, drink plenty of Boddington’s*, work on your Cockney slang, and practice driving on the left side of the road (preferably not during rush hour).
And who knows - in 3 years, you’ll be on the court with the world watching … as your team gets crushed in a 120-58 Dream Team drubbing. Hey, it’s been great for Angola & Iran.
(*-This is a biased opinion based on this writer’s personal preference for this particular British beer)