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Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008 | No more “Glo Ball.”
That’s how Al McGuire would have described the dominating performances by the Redeem Team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The United States men’s basketball team has swept through pool play, following up a 119-82 win over Spain with a 106-57 rout of Germany on Monday.
We know McGuire, who died from leukemia in 2001, would know to attribute their performances to “no more Glo Ball” because the legendary coach still talks to us through La Jolla resident Dick Enberg, the Emmy Award-winning broadcaster turned playwright.
Enberg and McGuire were longtime college basketball television broadcast partners after McGuire retired from coaching in 1977 following his NCAA title at Marquette University. If Enberg, a master storyteller, was in front of a microphone for the 2008 Olympics, he would likely use a term (first offered by McGuire at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul) summarizing how 2008 was a 180-degree turn from 1988.
In Seoul, McGuire decided during an early-round win that the United States wouldn’t win the Olympic gold medal.
“Why?” Enberg asked.
“Too much ‘Glo Ball,’” McGuire said succinctly.
What McGuire meant is the American players knew the TV cameras were focused on them after they scored a basket.
So, instead of getting back on defense following a basket, they were preening for the camera. Or, instead of hitting the open man for a better shot, they were forcing (and missing) shots in order to get some face time.
What happened is that the United States lost to the Soviet Union in the semifinals and settled for a bronze medal.
It was only the second time the United States had lost an Olympic basketball game. As a result, the U.S. ‘Dream Team,’ which included Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, was sent to re-claim the gold medal in Barcelona in 1992.
Enberg shares McGuire’s wit and wisdom with us through a tribute he wrote, “McGuire.” The one-man play returned for performances Monday night and two more Tuesday night at the North Coast Repertory Theater in Solana Beach.
“McGuire” debuted on Marquette’s campus in Milwaukee, was shown at the Final Four in Atlanta and in McGuire’s hometown, New York. McGuire’s father owned a Brooklyn bar, and that’s how McGuire learned his street smarts.
“The goal is to get to New York (Broadway), perhaps,” Enberg said. “We’re talking to Chicago, we’re hoping we can do it in Detroit for the (2009) Final Four. We’re here in San Diego, of course, and we’re almost set for Los Angeles in April.”
McGuire shared his street smarts throughout their 25-year-long friendship. Enberg says he grew up on a farm in Michigan and needed the education.
Some of the wit and wisdom was basketball-related as in the case of “glo ball.” Some of it was everyday life. For example, McGuire said, “Sometimes in life you have to take a right turn.”
Instead of turning left — as McGuire always did en route to his office at Marquette — one day he took a right turn with Enberg as his passenger. They spent the day exploring the countryside just outside Milwaukee, where they stopped at a roadside fruit stand and picked their own berries.
USA Basketball spent a lot of time and money putting together a ‘Redeem Team’ under Jerry Colangelo, the managing director, and Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. They made drastic changes in how the team was selected for the Olympics after the United States went 5-3 at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where they were lucky to salvage a bronze medal.
Yes, the formula has worked so far. The Americans pass the ball and play defense.
But maybe all they needed was some Al McGuire wisdom.
Tom Shanahan is voiceofsandiego.org‘s sports columnist. He is the media coordinator for the San Diego Hall of Champions and an occasional writer for Chargers.com. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to the editor.