Josh Levin has an article in Slate about how the American Dream Team had to play good basketball to get by Spain in the final game 107-100, because the Spanish team is now full of genuine NBA talents, like the 7' Gasol brothers (plus an African import, Serge Ibaka). Back in 1992, in contrast, the first Dream Team only had to face four guys in the Olympics who had yet made an impact in the NBA.
So, what is going on with white American basketball players? Why are they getting worse relative to black American basketball players while white Spanish basketball players are getting better?
This is an interesting question that has lots of lessons for How the World Works because it's taking place right before our eyes on a big stage. It would seem like a textbook example for studying the concept of Disparate Impact, but nobody seems to be terribly interested.
One reason is that Spaniards got taller -- Spain was a pretty beaten down country for a long time, and then it got normally prosperous. It can take a couple of generations for height to catch up, and the Spanish appear to be pretty good at big money sports these days like soccer, tennis, and basketball.
A commenter rejects the notion that white American NBA players aren't very good anymore:
I would go as far as saying that if USA fielded two segregated teams, we would finish Gold and Silver. The two deep below would be tough to beat by any nation in this years tourney. They all started NBA games last season.
PG: Kirk Heinrich, Jimmer Fridette
SG: Steve Novak, JJ Redick
SF: Ryan Anderson, Gordon Heyward
PF: Kevin Love, Tyler Hansborough
C: David Lee, BJ Mullens
Well, maybe, but could the NBA's 2012 Euro-American All-Stars even beat the six best white guys on the 1986 Boston Celtics? Boston went 67-15 and 15-3 in the playoffs with a top eight rotation of six white guys, plus Robert Parish and Dennis Johnson (who were very good but not great). The six main white Celtics were Larry Bird (league MVP that year), Kevin McHale (21 ppg, 8 rpg, 2 bpg, .574 shooting percentage), Bill Walton (Sixth Man of the year), Danny Ainge, Scott Wedman, and Jerry Sichting.
I'm an old fogey, but my guess would be that the the white Celtics of 1986 would kill the white NBA stars of 2012 for as long as Walton could stay on the court. Let the 1986 white Celtics have the 1986 Bill Laimbeer (led league in rebounding) to help out and it wouldn't be close.