Team USA looked plenty prepared for New Zealand on the court in Tuesday's blowout win in the FIBA World Cup of Basketball, but the Americans didn't appear ready for their opponents' pregame ritual. Like most national teams from the nation, New Zealand's basketball team starts all competitions by performing a haka, a traditional Maori challenge or war cry that rates as one of the coolest sights in sports. While Team USA wasn't exactly deterred by the performance, the players looked pretty confused:
But confusion is not the same as disrespect, and Team USA did not insult New Zealand's honor — if anything, submitting to the ritual in the first place proves that the team understood its importance. However, a former member of the U.S. national team was not so kind. On Twitter, Golden State Warriors wing Andre Iguodala, a gold-medal winner at the 2010 World Championships and 2012 Olympics, made his thoughts known after the game (via EOB):
It's pretty clear that the haka has a longer and deeper tradition than the A-Town Stomp (as practiced here by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton), but Iguodala is certainly not the first athlete to get jingoistic on social media during an international tournament. Yet the most prominent Kiwi in the NBA did not take kindly to Iguodala's comment. In a tweet that was deleted soon after its posting on Wednesday, Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams — not participating in the World Cup due to his desire to focus on his second season in the league — fired back at his Western Conference rival (Deadspin has photographic proof, as well):
@andre show some respect for my culture.
— Steven Adams (@RealStevenAdams) September 3, 2014
The fact that Adams deleted the tweet suggests that he either thought it counterproductive to get into an online fight or made up with Iguodala through some other medium. The international crisis has been averted, at least for now.
At the same time, it wouldn't be terribly surprising to see Adams dole out a hard foul to Iguodala the first time he gets to the hoop against the Thunder next season. Of course, that's a common play for Adams regardless of his history with an opponent, so maybe we shouldn't read into anything too much.
For his part, Iguodala followed up his tweet with a reaction to the negative reaction on Tuesday night:
I see I gotta go back to tweetin in code...— Andre Iguodala (@andre) September 3, 2014
In some cultures, dance can be a sort of language or code. Maybe just communicate everything via interpretive dance video from now on.
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