US track and field athlete Noah Lyles had a point about NBA teams clinching the Larry O’Brien trophy being called, “World Champions”.
Your real world champions this year are Germany, who lifted the 2023 FIBA World Cup after an 83-77 win against Serbia.
Team USA, on the other hand, lost the bronze medal to this site’s very own Canadian country in an OT thriller in Manila.
Fans forgot about the NBA with this terrific tournament held across Asia. The Philippines, Japan and Indonesia showed us that the game remains as exotic as their picture-perfect postcard locations.
Seeing all the nationalities getting behind their respective countries has been a thing of beauty.
Many teams booked their place in the Paris 2024 Olympics next year, thanks to their tournament play. Including part, hosts Japan, who without Rui Hachimura, were led with powerful performances from new Phoenix Sun Yuta Watanabe and a pair of perfect points. The two Yukis of Yuki Togashi and Yuki Kawamura of the Yokohama B-Corsairs.
The classic cup campaign meant more than just national sides stamping their passports for France. Even if many top flight NBA stars remained on a milk carton in this tourney. Whether a Greek Freak or Joker. Canada were even without Jamal Murray and Andrew Wiggins, but you could barely tell.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a breakout campaign even bigger than last season in the NBA. You can expect him to be top tier this year. Yet it was Dillon Brooks, with the big contract, who went from public enemy number one to fan favourite.
How can you not love this pure presence from the hockey land of the enforcers? Poking bears, getting Slovenian stars ejected, and shadowboxing in the tunnel with gloves on. Not to mention a record-breaking 39 points in the bronze medal game.
This throwback to the bruisers of the tough and great golden era of the 90s is exactly the character the NBA needs. You know he made that series with the Lakers so much better and brought the best out of LeBron. Memphis made a mistake. They just lost their true grit.
Canada, meanwhile, are mounting a serious campaign. No “thank you kindly” Mountie cliché. It’s due south for the rest of the world when this full strength team breaks baguettes in the City of Light.
There’s a good German team standing in their way though. Led by World Cup MVP Dennis Schröder, who no longer has to worry about being one of the most underrated players in the association.
The new Toronto Raptor clawed at Serbia for 28 points and the gold. He, Daniel Theis, Isaac Bonga and the Wagner brothers (Franz and Moritz) put on a clinic.
Dennis the Menace even put to bed his “you not gonna touch me like that” moment with coach Gordie Herbert. Clutching each other for a joking embrace after the game. We all know, passion gets the best of us at times. It’s what this sport and true champions are all about and made of. Rising above conflict, both internal and external. It’s all love. Like the heart we all have for the game.
From the group stages to the grand finale, we witnessed great games and the beautiful global exchange of this hallowed hardwood sport. A compelling combination to the final furlong of the wonderful WNBA season, and the perfect precursor to the NBA calendar on the horizon.
As for the best of the league’s best. Expect Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and more to suit up for Paris next summer. All eyes are on the King making his last Olympic ring stand too. Don’t sleep on the more complete team USA Basketball assembled for this cup either. Their losses are just a great indicator to how advanced basketball is around the world.
Led by coach Steve Kerr and pure point Jalen Brunson, they had heart and X and O smarts. Anthony Edwards scorched the earth on the floor and fan favourite Austin Rivers became a world one. Playing hard and even hitting the Carmelo Anthony celebration in front of the legend.
Yet as ‘Melo presented Schröder with the Most Valuable Player trophy, don’t front on who really runs the world right now.