The USA Basketball men’s and women’s national teams will be staying aboard Silversea’s Silver Cloud cruise ship docked at Pier Mauá in the infamous Guanabara Bay off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, which is either the best way to experience the 2016 Summer Olympics or the opening of a new “Die Hard” movie. I’m picturing John McClane rescuing Mike Krzyzewski & Co. from a Lithuanian drug cartel’s “Celtic Pride”-like attempt to take over the ship and pave Jonas Valanciunas’ road to a gold medal.
More likely, though, NBA and WNBA players will be the safest athletes in Rio, isolated from the Olympic Village on a 296-passenger cruise ship that spans 514 feet in length and 71 feet in width. That’s long enough to align five basketball courts in a row and still have plenty of room to roam.
And that’s just the top of six decks, featuring four upscale restaurants, a casino, several bars, a theater, shopping and a host of other luxury amenities. We’re guessing Kevin Durant won’t have to find a shower curtain for his bathroom like Australia’s Andrew Bogut did in the athletes’ village.
Unlike the Olympic Village, where athletes have already faced plumbing and electrical problems in stripped-down apartments with only the basic amenities — a metal bed frame, bedside table and disposable wardrobe — the Silver Cloud features living areas ranging up to 1,300 square feet. So, the biggest issue Team USA’s basketball squads will have is deciding who gets the Owner’s Suite.
Unless McClane has to get involved.
The USA Basketball men’s national team hasn’t stayed in the Olympic Village since NBA players began participating at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, where they stayed in a luxury hotel, as they’ve done in Beijing and London recently. They last stayed on a cruise ship aboard the Queen Mary 2 at the 2004 Athens Games. Whether it’s a coincidence that marked Team USA’s worst finish at the Olympics in the 24 years since the Dream Team remains to be seen. Just hope the casino closes early.
“Because of the high visibility of our athletes, we’re better served by [going] above and beyond what the Olympic people provide for us in the way of security and so forth,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told ESPN of the reasons for the cruise ship back in March. “We do our own things to make sure we’ve protected our people. There’s a big investment here that we’ll have in Rio. … We will not be in the Village, but our players will be in there a lot, like they have been in the last two Olympics.”
According to the ship’s website, the Silver Cloud normally employs a 222-person crew to serve guests. You too could stay in Kyrie Irving’s room for the ship’s next available cruise from Monte Carlo to Barcelona in September, so long as you’ve got $6,400 lying around as a starting price for the package.
Let’s take a moment to figure out what USA Basketball players might be up to on the Silver Cloud:
? Most likely to dine at Le Champagne, “where fine wines are complemented by a set tasting menu of regionally-inspired dishes in an intimate, elegant setting,” and the six-course experience costs $40 per guest just to get a reservation? Why, Carmelo Anthony, of course, considering he’s got Banana Boat experience and is the only member of the world’s greatest wine toast to make the trip to Rio.
? Most likely to use the library? Tamika Catchings. She’s the eldest stateswoman at 37 years old and therefore probably the only on the entire ship who reads actual books instead of a Kindle.
? Most likely to get a body wrap at the spa? DeMarcus Cousins. Dude needs a spa day.
? Most likely to use the show lounge? Assistant men’s coach Tom Thibodeau, all alone, after he demands they turn the stage into a screening room so he can watch game film for his entire stay.
? Most likely to eat at La Terrazza, the Italian restaurant that “uses buffalo mozzarella from Naples, organic balsamic vinegar and olive oil from Umbria, and air-dried ham out of Parma,” as “the Emilia-Romagna region also produces Silversea's 24-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano, while the pasta is made daily right on board”? Elena Delle Donne, Geno Auriemma and the Colangelos, obviously.
? Most likely to close down the casino? Draymond Green.
? Most likely to eat at the pool bar and grill, where “a preheated volcanic rock is brought to your table, allowing you to cook such delicacies as steak, veal, pork, lamb, salmon, fish or prawns exactly to your liking”? Probably Sue Bird. After all, birds love spreading fish guts on stones, right?
? Most likely to be buying a Gucci bag at the boutiques, which include “Buccellati, Damiani, Le Vian, Tag Heuer, Bulgari, Gucci, Paul & Shark, Sisley, Swarovski and more”? Durant, purchasing it for noted fashion icon Russell Westbrook as an apology for leaving him to fend for himself in Oklahoma City.
Most likely to be spotted in Connoisseur’s Corner, the cognac and cigar bar? Krzyzewski, Auriemma and everyone else after they win gold medals at the Olympics with a series of 50-point victories.
Enjoy the fortnight, USA Basketball. The entire world will be jealous. Let’s just hope the raw sewage in Guanabara Bay and the body parts washing up on shore at Copacabana Beach don’t ruin your view.
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