10 Reasons Why You Totally Need To Be Watching The 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup

Demarcus Cousins and James Harden (David Ramos/Getty Images)
Demarcus Cousins and James Harden (David Ramos/Getty Images)

1. Because it contains all the elements people who say they love basketball but don't love the NBA wish the NBA had (shorter games, a single elimination tournament, annoying non-Black guards making faces and taking charges, etc) AND the one element making the NBA the best basketball league in the world (NBA talent and skill). Basically, it's a win-win for basketball fans.

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2. Because Kyrie Irving is starting at point today against Slovenia. I've already expressed how I feel about Kyrie here. And here. And here. And here. So no need to reiterate. Just remember that I called this shit in 2010.

3. Because this will be Derrick Rose's first competitive action in almost a year. Which matters, because if you take away the 10 games he played last year and the 39 games from the shortened 2011-2012 season, he hasn't played a full NBA season since 2010-2011. And, since Derrick Rose is playing, we get to experience the always entertaining Derrick Rose post-game interviews, where he talks and acts like an 8th-grader just given a week of in-school suspension.

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4. Because of the Gasol brothers, Serge Ibaka, and five or six other guys with NBA talent and/or experience, Spain might actually be the favorites in the tournament.

5. Because a lot of women apparently love Serge Ibaka. I didn't realize this until I noticed a woman I was dating a couple years ago had him as her laptop screensaver. Curious, I googled Ibaka and learned that he has a quite a robust female fan base, and presume it's at least partially due to the Safe, But Not Really All That Safe For Work picture this woman had as her iPhone screensaver.

6. Because Team USA needs all the fan support they can get. Why? Well, if Team USA loses, James Harden will probably not spend as much time at Dreams and King of Diamonds this fall as he usually does. Which might put a couple strippers out of work. Which might have a domino effect on the local economies in those cities. Which might eventually lead to widespread pestilence and plague. So if you don't want Miami and Houston to have widespread pestilence and plague, watch and root for Team USA.

7. Because you will be surprised by how many Black NBA players are on Team France. And none of them are named Tony Parker.

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8. Because when I'm tweeting and talking about these games, I want someone to be able to tweet me back. I am not above deleting a tweet or Facebook status that doesn't have an arbitrary number of replies in an arbitrary amount of time, so don't make me do that.

9. Because Lebron, Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo, Kobe, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Love are not on this team. So, for those who complain ESPN only talks about the same seven or eight guys, there are a bunch of new names for you to familiarize yourself with, including…

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Kenneth Faried — who's another example of my theory that every. single. basketball player with dreadlocks. who. has. ever. existed plays like a football player playing basketball. Yes. If you're reading this and you have dreadlocks and you play basketball, I am 100% certain you hoop like every other dude with dreadlocks.

Anthony Davis — who might actually be the third best player in the NBA right now.

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Stephen Curry — who you probably already know. Still, he's an offensive savant — a basketball maven — and it's beautiful watching offensive savants play with other great offensive players. It's fucking beautiful.

Mason Plumlee — who probably won't actually play much. But, get used to hearing that fucking name, because there are two Plumlee brothers currently in the NBA and like seven more who will be there in the next 10 years. All with the exact same annoying-ass-unless-they're-on-your-team game, and all who look exactly like the Winklevii.

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Demarcus Cousins — whose nickname is Boogie. You have to love a 6'11, 270 pound guy whose nickname is Boogie.

Rudy Gay — whose last name is Gay. I am an 11-year-old, so this occasionally makes me laugh.

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10. Because of Paul George. I'm sure most of you know what happened to him. (If you don't, google it. But make sure you have an empty stomach.) I happened to be watching the game live, just as I was when Kevin Ware broke his leg in a similar fashion.

Those types of injuries are freak occurrences on the basketball court. Still, it happened, and it happened while George was playing in an exhibition game he wasn't being paid for, while trying out for a team he wouldn't have been paid to play for either. They're all doing this for free and for those annoyingly undefinable concepts like pride and competitive spirit and love for the game — the qualities people down on professional sports (wrongly) think today's professional athletes lack.

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If you are one of these people, here's your chance to not be a hypocrite. So watch for Paul George and the rest of the athletes putting their million-dollar contracts and careers on the line for a chance to be World Champions.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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DISCUSSION

It's interesting that you were doing the same thing for Kevin Ware and Paul George. I just happened to walk away from the TV both times when those gruesome injuries went on, and ended up hitting Twitter to figure out what happened. Yikes!

This tournament couldn't have come at a better time for Rose. He can get used to live game action for a solid month before preseason against decent quality competition. Also, maybe Tom Thibodeau will figure out that he's an Iverson-style undersized 2, and he needs to find a competent point guard to initiate the offense. I do have thoughts on 3 other players.

- Anthony Davis is scary in that he hasn't really figured out he's 6'11" yet. He plays like he's 6'4", and it somehow works. Once he fills out a bit more and figures out the post, he's going to be the Next Big Thing.

- Mason Plumlee is a jumper away from being the second coming of Tom Chambers. It also shows how reputation is a fickle beast. David Lee is better regarded, but Plumlee not only and rebound and play the pick-and-roll game, but is WAY more athletic and can play defense. He's going to be fun to watch over the years. Also, his existence is a living rebuttal to the idea that Duke players are overhyped. How he managed to slip that machine is something the NSA would like to know.

- Rudy Gay is the most frustrating talent of his generation. (He's also a living embodiment of my theory that NBA small forwards are the hardest position to project, but that's another story.) Watching him, two things become obvious. One is that he has all the necessary size, athleticism and skill sets to be a successful NBA small forward. Two is that he hasn't the foggiest clue as to how to put it together. That's why he's ended up on 3 teams in a year-and-a-half despite putting up good numbers. If he starts figuring out this tournament, he might be able to make that leap. If not, he'll end up as not necessarily a bust (due to sheer numbers), but a definite underachiever.