FIBA Worlds: Just a Long Run-Up to USA v Spain?
Given any sport's popularity -- or lack thereof -- in various parts of the globe, the true validation of a World Championship event comes down to the athletes themselves.
Simply put, if the best players show or want to show, it's a significant event.
That puts soccer's World Cup at the top of any list. No surprise there.
Baseball and basketball?
Suffice it to say the rest of the planet where those sports are big think more of the event than the Americans do.
The counter-argument from USA supporters is that their talent pool is so deep, there's no problem in taking whomever feels like attending.
That hasn't exactly held true in baseball. The USA has yet to even appear in a championship game. And while hoops has had its low points, it seems that an upgrade in coaching -- ie- Mike Krzyzewski -- took care of that.
But frankly, determining championships is secondary to these competitions. Popularizing the game is why the spotlights are glaring. That's why it's ironic that, while the NBA has done an outstanding job of spreading its commercial gospel, it is still resisted by governors such as the Dallas Mavericks' Mark Cuban.
OK, he didn't become a billionaire by being a genius at spelling. However, his point is made. Loud and clear.
To which the pointed retort should be, "Haven't you and your players profited enough out of the game?"
Owners, chairmen, and governors do have a legitmate concern. Injuries.
Barring an egregious stumble, the 2014 FIBA title game should be destination viewing.