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Pour One Out for Manu Ginobili

Team USA wrecked Argentina, but not before Manu’s Golden Generation sang goodbye

Getty Images
Getty Images

Team USA can’t seem to win. I’m not talking about the games, mind you. They’re 6–0 now, after a 105–78 romp over Argentina. It was the team’s most impressive victory of the tournament, setting up a showdown with archrival Spain on Friday. Kevin Durant was the latest American to carry the scoring load: 27 points, including 7-of-9 from 3. Paul George added 17 points, and was once again the team’s most consistent perimeter defender.

Yeah, all that was great and a bit of relief. (Is anyone really, truly concerned, though?) The kind of performance we’ve been waiting for, yadda, yadda, yadda. And yet, as the U.S. was beating down Argentina in a manner to which we have become accustomed — a manner, in fact, that we have come to expect as practically a given — I found myself thinking not about the victory, but wondering: Where’s Walter Hermann?

You know, the Fabio-coiffed former Bobcat and Piston, the sixth and least-heralded member of Argentina’s 2004 gold-medal-winning squad to make the NBA. For that matter, where’s Fabricio Oberto? That was a magic squad! The rest of the Golden Generation — Manu Ginobili, Carlos Delfino, Andres Nocioni, and Luis Scola — were on the floor, soaking up the adulation of their fans. But it felt somehow incomplete without Hermann’s goofy, corn-colored mane and Oberto’s scruffy scowl.

As the game wound down, the Argentine fans waved flags and sang songs. It was a cool moment. And, despite the score, it was Argentina’s, not the U.S.’s.

Play of the Game:

All-time USA scoring leader Carmelo Anthony might be the team’s old head, but KD is the only player capable of being its leader. He’s the one guy whom the rest of the world is scared of. Here he is bamboozling Argentina with a gyrating, vertigo-inducing cross-over-to-Euro-step head-fake running layup while falling away to his left that sent Boogie and DeAndre into hysterical mime convulsions on the sideline.

PS: I love that there’s so much extra space between the sideline and the bench, and I love when our guys get enthusiastically loose within it. All I need in moments like these is a picture-in-picture shot of Coach K’s face.

Player of the Game: Plot twist ahead. Durant, as we have established, was that dude; Jimmy Butler (seven points, four rebounds, plus-18) and Paul George did the dirty work; and Kyle Lowry continues to be the best option at point guard, especially with Argentine guard Facundo “Billionaire’s J.J. Barea” Campazzo hitting various bullshit floaters over a confused Kyrie Irving early in the game.

So, not to go all “Hawks Starting Five Wins Eastern Conference Player of the Month” on you, because that was bullshit (but actually, watch me do just that), the player of the game really was Argentina’s Golden Generation — Manu, Delfino, Nocioni, and Scola. They were perhaps the most influential non-U.S. international basketball team ever, and we will never see their like again. Which is good, because they beat Team USA that one time, which was bad.

Stay golden, Noci boy.

Warriors Chemistry Watch:

Everything’s just fine.

What’s Next: The pain in Spain will fall mainly on Friday at 6 p.m. ET, when Team USA will wreck Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Mirotic, and Sergio Llull, a.k.a. the only member of Team Spain not in the NBA who I will acknowledge. Book it.