If It’s Time To Scrap, U.S. Is Ready

LONDON – The U.S. Men’s Senior National Team’s smallest player could very well be its toughest. Same goes for Argentina. So it should have surprised no one that the two sides exchanged slugs, shoves, elbows and insults during the U.S. Team’s 126-97 drubbing of  Argentina Thursday night in the final pool play game for both teams.

If they were trying to ready themselves for the knockout stage of this Olympic competition, consider that mission accomplished. And if anyone was wondering if this U.S. Team loaded with wing players and devoid of noted “tough guys” was ready for a scrap, Chris Paul answered any questions time and again with his actions.

Paul was accused of popping Argentina’s Facundo Campazzo with a cheap shot early in the third quarter and Campazzo’s retaliatory shot came at the of the third, when he dropped Carmelo Anthony with a shot below the belt that fired up both sides. The U.S., though, had already delivered their most devastating blows by running Argentina off of the floor in nine minutes and 58 seconds before Campazzo’s punch.

“He got hit in the groin,” agitated U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said when a reporter questioned what happened to Anthony. “That’s why he buckled over. He wasn’t celebrating his shot.”

Paul, always savvy in these situation, wasn’t sure which run in with Facundo he was being asked about after the game. And denied taking a swing at him.

“Which time?” he said, “We got tangled up 1,000 times.”

But Facundo, who admitted his English isn’t the best, was clear about what happened to Anthony, his intentions and the fact that he wasn’t apologizing to those he might have offended.

“I apologized to Kobe [Bryant],” he said. “But I will not apologize to Carmelo because [Paul] did not apologize to me.”

Bryant seemed satisfied.

“It was inappropriate,” he said. “I said, ‘you don’t do that’ and he said, ‘I know.’ He knows he’s wrong. That was uncalled for and I let him know. To his credit, he acknowledged it. He said, ‘My fault, I know.’ And that was it.”

Others on the U.S. Team, however, were not.

“We all saw it,” Tyson Chandler said. “It was a cheap shot. He hit him in an area where you don’t want to get hit in. We all represent our countries. This is the Olympics. You never want it go like that.”

Krzyzewski had no problem with the way his team competed.

“Our guys handled themselves well.  I mean chippiness is chippiness,” he said. “I don’t usually use that word.  I mean, guys want to win and they play hard and that’s part of competition.  I didn’t think that our guys or their guys did anything under Olympic standards. I actually thought it was a heck of a game, which you want in the Olympics. You want it to mean something where people are playing for their country and they are playing hard and they are fighting.  Those are good things for both teams.”

Cheap shots aside, the U.S. wanted to make sure the other teams in the quarterfinal field of this competition understand that they will not tolerate any foolishness. With a feisty Australian team up next Wednesday and a potential Friday rematch with Argentina looming, if they can get by Brazil, tensions will be high.

A feisty and competitive game is the kind of atmosphere, the kind of challenge that Paul relishes. It brings out his best, as evidenced by the 17 points, seven assists, four rebounds, three steals and … quick hands.

“Anyone who is involved in athletics knows that there are these ups and downs over the course of a game,” Paul said. “I love it, I love it.  When it got a little chippy here and there it gets you excited and it really lets you know you are on the Olympic stage playing for a gold medal … I give Argentina a lot of credit. They pushed us. They made us compete. And that’s what you want to do.”

With three more games between the U.S. and another gold medal, that’s exactly what they’ll have to do.

25 Comments

  1. El Drake Shell says:

    Campazzo’s logic why he didn’t apologize to Carmelo: Because Chris Paul didn’t apologize to him. Am I the only one that thinks that doesn’t make sense? Melo had nothing to do with Campazzo and Paul. But he’ll drain that 3 in ya FACE!!! USA…USA…USA!!!

  2. fan says:

    I kind of don’t like the whole pro U.S style of the article. The use of words etc. I wasn’t impressed by earlier blogs/articles from Sekou either. When Paul does something ‘he was accused’ of it (stated as arguably), but when Campazzo does something it’s a cheap shot ( stated as a fact). I’d much rather read objective articles.
    BTW did you see David Blatt in his time out with Russia? STOP TALKING. hahaha.

  3. JohnnyBlaze says:

    Wish Charles Barkley was still playing… He woulda nailed Campazzo on his a$$, and THEN smacked him…

  4. Pepe says:

    The USA Basketball Team is the only reason I’m proud to be an American. Bring it, undermatched foreigners!

  5. Common Sense says:

    sorry..news.

  6. USA WILL NOT WIN GOLD says:

    Anthony sez he got hit on groin.

    team usa/team luck 3-point shot will get hit in groin when they lose to Argentina/Brazil/Russia/or Spain.

    You see Americans talk too much. They go silent after they lose.

    • zgillet says:

      Your idiocy is staggering. You don’t even pick a country.

    • It's over. Give the USA the gold. says:

      They should just give the USA the gold and let the rest of them play for silver. That is what is happening anyway.

    • BOOyah says:

      we still beat ur country tho, anytime

    • BOOyah says:

      whatever your country is, they dont talk, so does that mean theyre always loosing?

    • Lee says:

      Lol you dont even have a specific country you want to win, you just have one you dont want to win. Think we got a word for that… HATER. those lucky 3 point shots youre referring to are long 2s in the nba that all these players drain with or without a hand in their face, CONSISTENTLY. Not their fault europeans have to move the line closer to the basket.

  7. Sylvio says:

    I’m not surprised for the number of 3′s of this team USA in the olympics. Apart from the obvious fact that the 3 point line is closer, Each one of this players is a great three point shooter, even better than every one of their percentages in NBA. Happens, in my opinion that in the NBA every one of them are extremely covered in defense, and sometimes even doubled. In the olympics there are 5 of these stars at the same time in the game, so one of them normally gets an open shot, and you don’t normally fail an open three pointer if you are JAMES, DURANT, BRYANT, WILLIAMS, ETC.

  8. tom says:

    ummm…YOU MORON … I cant even tell what sport you are blabbing about… you fail to mention it in the ENTIRE ARTICLE !

    • big dog says:

      Tom.. Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, campazzo, ALL only play ONE sport.. DUH! Who’s the moron??? Great article Sek!

    • Jolan says:

      http://www.nba.com do you really have to ask what sport he is talking about?

    • kevingrace68 says:

      dude this is nba.com? and you re asking what sport it is? hmmm moron?

    • john says:

      Tom, you’re on NBA.com, it’s a website for basketball and the Olympics are in London at this time, so they are talking about Olympic basketball. I think..:)

    • notarocketscientist says:

      NBA,com and you don’t think he’d be talking about basketball? idiot

    • Common Sense says:

      EXACTLY!!! Tom!! You are so right! I had no idea if this was on planet earth or on Neptune!!! HE never mentioned Earth at all!!! what an idot! Go back to Journalism school Sekou! Geez! Wait!!… he didn’t mention what the players ate for breakfast either!!!!!!! Oh my gosh!!!!

  9. Joel says:

    Living in Winston-Salem, I watched Chris Paul play at Wake Forest. I love the guy, he’s a great player – but he does have a thing for punching opposing players in their nuggets. He’s been caught a couple of times on tape. So I would figure he probably did punch Campazzo. The trick, of course, is not to get caught, something Campazzo should take as a lesson.

    • NbaFan says:

      Hey Tom….i think Chris Paul plays football…..by the way, are we still in http://www.nfl.com? Kobe Bryant should be the running back of basketball. Tom, help me out here….i don\’t know which sport does NBA players belong to.