You may have noticed that this year’s U.S. Open and the World Championship of Basketball took place at the same time. Undoubtedly, you cared more about Sampras-Agassi than Yugoslavia-Argentina, but if you read or watched the sports news enough you might have heard that the U.S. basketball team put on a truly spectacular performance, finishing a whopping sixth. You also might have heard that Anna Kournikova lost in the first round of the Open, as she did in all the grand slams this year. What you haven’t heard is how Team USA and Anna Kournikova are actually clones of each other. Well, kind of.
First, both have supporters who use intriguing language in an attempt to rally their spirits.
After Anna bowed out of the Open, an Adidas tennis executive in charge of global sports marketing (read: Anna-vertisements) generously stated, “It’s not like we’re trying to beat a dead horse here.” Always encouraging — albeit indecipherable.
Meanwhile, Quinn Buckner, former NBA coach and current U.S.A. Basketball bureaucrat, said before the Yugoslavia-U.S. game that the Americans’ loss to Argentina was something we needed in order to make sure it never happened again. It was the kind of thing we’ve gotten used to hearing, but about something entirely different (and far more worthwhile).
Fortunately for the entire world, the bureaucrats over in Washington have done far better than those at USA Basketball, because sure enough, “it” happened again. Twice.
Second, both Anna and Team USA finished their tournaments behind real powerhouses in their respective sports. Angelique Widjaja and some woman by the name of Zuluaga were among the 64 names who made it past Anna and all the way to the second round, while hoops-crazy nations New Zealand and Germany ended the championships ranked higher than the sixth-place U.S. basketball team.
Third, just as Anna gets to play with someone good like Martina Hingis and win some meaningless doubles matches, American basketball players can team up with good foreign players in the NBA to win some meaningless regular-season games. Although both ultimately lose (Anna and Martina in the quarterfinals, the Kings in the conference finals), they’re great fun to watch. Especially Anna and Martina.
Fourth, Anna and American basketball players often appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated for reasons dealing more with the illustrated than with the sports. You know the Anna cover like the back of your hand, but remember Shawn Kemp and his illegitimate children or, more recently, Charles Barkley in shackles?
Finally, Anna and the Dream On Team are most obviously clones because they look so strikingly similar.
Okay, so Anna can’t be cloned, even by 12 NBA players and George Karl. But my point is, you have to admit that — like Anna’s game — American basketball is in real bad shape. I mean, it’s not like we’re trying to beat a dead horse here.