Fowler: Laettner says U.S. basketball team needs more urgency, less cool

sfowler@charlotteobserver.comAugust 9, 2012 

— Former Duke All-American Christian Laettner has been in London this week, and he weighed in with the Olympic News Service on a couple of topics – including his opinion that the 2012 men’s basketball team needed “a little more sense of urgency.”

Laettner played a similar role on the 1992 “Dream Team” as Anthony Davis does on this year’s version, going from the best player in all of college basketball to a rarely-used substitute in the Olympics.

When asked which team would win in a hypothetical game, Laettner said: “Of course I am going to say that they would never beat the ’92 team. The good thing about the ’92 team is that we never played cool because all those guys wanted to go out there and show the world how good we were. So we weren’t playing the other team. We were playing [for] our identity and for our whole country to show the world we were the best.

“Michael Jordan didn’t play cool. Magic Johnson didn’t play cool. We wanted to kill everybody, and I wish these guys [the 2012 team] would get that little more sense of urgency.”

I wasn’t present at Laettner’s interview. But I do think this team has a sense of urgency (although not as many hall of famers as the 1992 team, and I ultimately agree that the Dream Team would beat this version).

The U.S. plays Argentina in one semifinal Friday, with Spain and Russia playing in the other. The U.S. (6-0 in these Olympics) is averaging 118 points per game, which is at least 30 points higher than every other team in the tournament.

•  Wembley Stadium, where the U.S. women’s soccer final was played Thursday, seats more than 80,000 and feels like an NFL stadium. In fact, it now hosts a regular-season game every year and will do so at least through 2016.

I wouldn’t be totally stunned if the NFL put a Super Bowl in London at Wembley at some point as it tries to increase the game’s worldwide appeal.

•  Usain Bolt’s win in the 200 meters Thursday will cement his status as a track legend, just as he predicted it would. What is really sweet is that Bolt, 25, plans to run again in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

•  You’ve got to love Western Carolina alum Manteo Mitchell stealing some headlines from Bolt, though, by finishing his part of the 4x400 relay on a broken leg. The U.S. usually generates headlines in Olympic relays by dropping the baton, so this was a welcome change.

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