For the second straight Summer Olympics, Spain's men's national basketball team had reached the gold-medal game, and for the second straight Summer Olympics, despite playing well enough to win throughout, it had met a narrow defeat at the hands of the United States. For the likes of veteran Spanish stars like Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, Jose Calderon and Felipe Reyes, this could've been their last shot at taking out the Americans and claiming a place at the top of the medal stand, but in the end, there was just too much LeBron James, too much Kevin Durant, too much Chris Paul ... too much everything.
Faced with the end of your pursuit of gold, what do you do? Well, apparently, you go full-on metal band and start trashing your Olympic Village apartments, because screw it! You need to blow off some steam, you're leaving in the morning anyway, and hey, your national sports program will do you a solid and pick up the tab, right?
The details, sketchy though they are, of the curiously delayed story come to us from Lee Moran at the New York Daily News:
Manager Sergio Scariolo's team racked up more than $14,400 in damages to their two London 2012 rooms after the 107-100 loss, it was revealed Thursday.
The exact nature of the damage has not yet been confirmed, but the Spanish media has condemned the actions as "despicable" and "disrespectful."
And if there's any team that had a good vantage point on what despicable, disrespectful behavior looked like during the Olympic basketball tournament, it was Spain.
The Spanish team's actions were the lead item in a story by reporter Owen Gibson published in Wednesday's edition of the British newspaper The Guardian about what comes next for the Athletes Village, Olympic Stadium and other structures in the aftermath of the London Games. (The only other in-village damage cited by the chief executive in charge of developing the Olympic Park: A Moroccan athlete "took out a sprinkler system that crashed through several floors by playing with a remote control aircraft," an incident of which we would really like to see video.)
The room-trashin' came "in what was apparently the aftermath of a rowdy post-tournament night out," according to Robert Álvarez of the Spanish newspaper El País, and the Spanish Olympic Team's chief of mission, Cayetano Cornet, surveyed the damage the following morning as players prepared to leave. The Spanish Basketball Federation has disavowed any knowledge of post-medal-round vandalism, but the Daily News' Moran cites a source within the organization as saying that big farewell celebrations are common when players finish a tournament: "But it has never led to this."
We have kind of a hard time imagining precisely how a post-tournament party involving Pau Gasol can lead to a $14,000 damage bill — perhaps he performed exploratory surgery on every piece of furniture in the joint? — but maybe the details are best left to the imagination. Moran reports that the bill was paid up immediately after Cornet was made aware of it, so no harm, no foul, we suppose (except for that poor, poor armoire that Rudy Fernandez rode down the stairs).
We can only hope that the men of Spain had roughly two-thirds as much fun as the hommes from France, who partied about $6,000 harder in a post-Olympics bar buyout even though they didn't manage a medal. Given how much Tony Parker and Boris Diaw dig club life (even though you'd kind of expect Parker to, um, not so much anymore) and how Ronny Turiaf can get down on the dance floor, though, we kind of doubt it.
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