Javale McGee dunks during a July 2011 charity game between NBA players and the Philippine national team. (AP)One of the top stories of the playoffs so far, beyond that many games have been unwatchable, is that Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee played like a capable and effective pro. There's a chance that, for as many silly plays as he's made over the years, he could become one of the best centers in the league, even if he does nothing more than block shots, rebound and catch the ball around the basket for easy dunks and alley-oops.
Now that the Nuggets' season is over, JaVale has a chance to work on his game this summer. As far as we know, he won't be doing so as part of Team USA, either with the senior team or the select squad that practices and scrimmages with them before the London Olympics. In fact, McGee might play for another nation in international competition in the future. Oddly enough, he might end up playing for the Philippines.
McGee has been trying to become a naturalized citizen of the island country for some time now, but it's been a long process. Now, however, there's legislation in the Filipino government to get it done. From Francis Respisio for local station News5 (via PBT):
A bill has been filed in the House of Representatives to naturalize Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee to make him eligible for the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team.
Antipolo City representative Robbie Puno filed House Bill 6169, which would make McGee a Filipino citizen. Puno, in his bill's cover letter, cited McGee's "remarkable track record in the United States' professional basketball scene" as consideration for his inclusion in the SMART-Gilas program.
McGee, who came over to the Philippines twice last year during the NBA lockout, has expressed interest in playing for the country.
The Philippines is a basketball-mad country, and McGee's relationship with them could be the start of a serious celebrity profile. Additionally, Pinoy genetics have conspired to create a population of relatively short people, which means their national team could use a player of McGee's height.
The problem here is that Team USA would be giving up a secret weapon in FIBA play if it allows McGee to play for the Philippines. If McGee has one obvious weakness as a player, it's that he tends to try to block everything and thereby gets called for more goaltending violations than anyone else in the league. In FIBA play, players are allowed to touch the basketball as soon as it hits the rim. McGee could thrive simply by patrolling the area around the basket and swatting away any shots that draw iron. He's already a good shot-blocker in the NBA, but in FIBA ball he could be a monster.
All Team USA has to do is get a little creative in its defensive strategy. If it lets his Filipino citizenship happen, it stands to lose him forever.