France's Ronny Turiaf watches Team USA's Tyson Chandler throw down a dunk. (AP)
Over the years, NBA fans have come to know France center Ronny Turiaf as a seemingly limitless font of positivity. During seven NBA seasons with teams like the Los Angeles Lakers (where he played with Team USA star Kobe Bryant), New York Knicks (where he teamed with Carmelo Anthony) and Miami Heat (where he won a championship alongside LeBron James), Turiaf has become a fan favorite in part for his commitment to interior defense and rebounding, but more so because he's an extremely demonstrative and emotional player ever-ready to explode with a scream, dance or even song, whether on the court or on the sideline, when the moment calls for it.
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The 29-year-old big man is also a fairly quotable sort. After his French national team suffered a 98-71 loss at the hands of the U.S. on Sunday, Turiaf sought the appropriate descriptor for how ably Team USA shifted from a (kind of) conventional lineup — 7-foot-1 Tyson Chandler at center, the 6-foot-9 James at power forward, quicksilver Kevin Durant at small forward, traditional scorer Bryant at shooting guard and pure point Chris Paul running the show — to new-school formulations that saw the team play smaller, faster and more wing-heavy, with outside-shooting forward Kevin Love playing the nominal pivot.
The search led Ronny where he belongs — among the stars. From Tom Withers at The Associated Press:
France's Ronny Turiaf likened the U.S. team's ability to play big or small to a two-faced beast.
"That team is like a Gemini," said Turiaf, who will play with Paul and the [Los Angeles] Clippers next season. "They have two faces, a nightmare-nightmare."
I can totally understand why USA Basketball Managing Director Jerry Colangelo might not want to start heavily promoting that phrase as his team's signature branding; after all, if you want to package Team USA as the greatest heights of athletic achievement to which young boys and girls should aspire, making them think about nightmares a lot probably isn't the soundest marketing strategy.
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That said ...
If this edition of Team USA — this ever-shifting, malleable, attack-from-all-angles beast of a roster — does wind up winning the gold medal, I think "The Nightmare Team" would be a very, very excellent moniker. Especially considering ... y'know.
The good news is that Turiaf acquitted himself ably against that two-headed astrological terror, scoring seven points, grabbing nine rebounds and adding two assists as France's starting center. The bad news is that France might not wake up anytime soon — their next opponent in Group A is Argentina, which looked pretty darn fearsome itself en route to a 23-point opening win over Lithuania on Sunday. Think some good thoughts, Ronny.
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Next up for Team USA: A Tuesday afternoon tilt with Tunisia. After dropping its Olympic debut to Nigeria early Sunday morning, you'd understand it if Tunisia didn't sleep well Monday night.
Hat-tip to Magic Basketball's Eddy Rivera.
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