Ricky Rubio, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh. These players, with injuries ranging from torn ACL’s to an abominable strain, will be sitting out of tomorrow’s gold medal match between Spain and the United States.
Their losses don’t devalue the grandeur of the Olympic stage, nothing likely ever will, but they do set back the potential drama that engrossed their last finals match — a 11-point Team USA victory.
Rubio, whose improved significantly since 2008, was expected to be the backcourt teammate that Jose Calderon desperately needs. He would have controlled the flow of the game, allowing Spain to allocate more rest to Calderon and create easy looks through his vision that bests nearly everyone in the tournament. His addition would have been an immense coup and one that changes the complexion of the game dramatically.
Injuries to Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh were similarly as damaging; their absence prevented compelling matchups down low between the Gasol brothers and Howard, an athletic specimen capable of combating their size in the low block. Without a legitimate big outside of Tyson Chandler, the United States adapted, instituting smaller lineups to compensate for injuries.
Still, injuries are inevitable and these teams retain the essential tenets to an exciting final — LeBron, Kobe, Durant, The Gasol brothers, Calderon, Rudy Fernandez, Serge Ibaka etc.
For basketball fans, that amalgam of talent should suffice.