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The World Cup Begins Today…

After what feels like forever, or at the very least, four years, the World Cup finally begins anew this morning. Which makes this the logical time for Sports on the Brain to offer their take on the tournament. Of course, we aren’t really interested in prognosticating which team’s going to win (the Three Lions obviously), but rather we are much more interested in the sublimely important, deeply relevant idea presented in last week’s BS Report. It was there that Bill Simmons and Michael Davies discussed which NBA players would make up the American team’s starting eleven, were the American’s not obstinate a$$holes who refused to engage in what the rest of the world believes to be the beautiful game.

So here with scientific, pin point accuracy, is the eleven players currently playing professional hoops, who would have made insane footballers if they had been born into a country that emphasized the sport from a very young age.

Goaltender:

Dwight Howard – He might actually be too big, but despite being a hair shy of 7’0″, the self dubbed Superman is so absurdly agile with such a powerful leap, that it’s hard not to imagine him protecting the goal and swatting the crap out of anything that approached the net. The big question is whether he could go from standing to laid out on the ground stopping a low corner drive, but… survey says… Yes. He’s golden.

Defenders:

Rajon Rondo – The perfect attacking wing. As a right back, Rondo would be a vicious tackler in the box and if he came away with the ball moving forward? Forget about it, he’s gone up the field attacking from the flanks, using his speed to break down defenses and then delivering a perfect ball to the strikers.

LeBron James – Picture Franz Beckenbauer on HGH… James’ size and stupid athleticism would make him a powerful center back. He’d muscle out any striker in the box on set pieces. Once he’d won possession, he’d be a terror going forward, using his vision to find an angle and send the ball forward. And on set pieces in the opponents box? Well, if John Terry has scored 6 goals with his head in 58 appearances for England, James would easily triple that.

Jason Kidd (Captain) – Sure he’s old, but he’d be wearing the armband, the grizzled vet that keeps everyone in line, protects his zone, stays home while James makes his forays forward, but is laser precise and cagey with the ball.

Delonte West – Sometimes it helps to have a little crazy on your team. You think opponents are going to be zealous charging into the box knowing that the gun-in-guitar case toting West is patrolling the left side? No, he’s a lunatic, nobodies going after him. Besides the juicily absurd rumor that the reason James looked so bad in the Celtics series was because West was plugging James’ mom is something straight out of Football Wags. So, he really has to be on the team.

Midfielders:

Deron Williams – Really, he’s the ultimate holding midfielder. A solid presence, he’d be devastating in pursuit of the ball, crushing opponents who decided to take him on. He’d be like a slightly more solid Patrick Viera.

Manu Ginobili – I know, I know, I implied in the intro that it would be an American team, but there was no way I was going to write a thousand words on which NBA players should be soccer stars and not include my footie loving Canadian compatriot Nash (below) and once I included him, well it opened the proverbial door… Given that he’s Argentine, I guess if Ginobili were world class with the ball at his feet, then he’d be playing in South Africa this week, but… I don’t know, how do you not include him? He’s a leftie, which makes him perfect for the left side of my midfield, but he’s also sneaky enough that you could swap him and the right midfielder and he’d create twice the havoc as a goofy foot from the right side. He’s tough, aggressive, great with the ball, knows the angles and has a natural disposition for complaining to the refs. Plus he’s got that bald patch the Zidane wore so well…

Dwayne Wade – I was trying to figure out who I wanted as my final player, someone to sit on the right side, be creative and attack. It would be helpful if he were a good ball striker and agile, fast enough to spread the field wide, but quick enough to dart inside. Who to pick? Who to pick? Oh wait, there’s one obvious player that I’m missing here… D-Wade. Perfect.

Steve Nash – Did you really think that I was going to make a team and not include Nash? Really? I mean the guy loves the beautiful game and probably could have played for Canada’s national team (as his brother did). Now, playing footie for the Canadian national team is a little like being the best hockey player from Brazil, but still… if Nash’s parents had stayed in England, I am sure that he would have played for the Lions. He’s just so smart on the court, knowing the angles, seeing the game on a different level. He’s a tireless worker, and while he’s not the best defender, he’d be perfect as the point on the diamond position. Steve would sit in behind the strikers, giving them perfect service, taking set pieces and corners and – only when necessary – striking it home himself. Think Zidane without the crazy head butt.

Strikers:

Kobe Bryant – Come on, he is the consummate striker. All driven purpose. Selfish. An assassin. Tall, with an aggressive head, he’d be impossible to contain in the air, but he’s also so quick that no defender in the world would have been able to mark him in his youth. Now he’d get by the same way he does in hoops, by knowing the angles, attacking the seems, getting his shot off from anywhere, and by just wanting it more than the other guy.

Brandon Jennings – A surprise pick? Yeah, I guess so, but remember that soccer is so much of soccer in general and striking in particular is pace, and nobody in the NBA is faster right now than Brandon Jennings. If I’d written a piece like this four years ago, then Kobe’s partner up front would have been Iverson, but now he’s lost a step and must pass the torch. If he were healthy I might have gone with Chris Paul, but much like Michael Essien, he’s fallen injured at just the wrong time, opening the door for Jennings. He’s young, he’s precocious, but he’s also a blur on the court. He’d provide the pace that Kobe can no longer generate, and he’d also give the team a little of that youthful arrogance.

Five Fearless World Cup Predictions:

Well, it just wouldn’t be fair to you, my not so loyal readers if I didn’t provide a couple of predictions, and since five seems like a nice solid number, lets go with that.

1) Fears over how South Africa’s infrastructure will handle the bull rush of people for the tournament, will be overstated and while problems will exist, they will not be great enough to stop it from being a successful tournament.

2) However, as good as the overall experience will be, a hard club season will mean many heavy legs and the rash of injuries we’ve seen leading up to the tournament will continue throughout.

3) The final will lack the explosive shock value of the last World Cup, when the best player in the world clanked the winning goal off the crossbar and two minutes later got into a frank discussion of familial prostitution Italian defender Marco Materazzi. The end result? A legacy changing head butt, a red card, and a penalty shoot out victory for the Italians.

4) Despite strangely outlandish expectations, the Three Lions will not win the World Cup. They will however have their best run since 1990 and make it to the semifinals. There they will lose to a surprise German squad. The only consolation for this scribe will be that the game wont end in shootouts, so for another year I’ll avoid that inevitable heart attack.

5) This will be the first southern hemisphere Cup to see a Northern Hemisphere winner, as Spain’s phenomenal run will see them outclass the Germans in the final to win their first World Cup.

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  1. Daddio
    June 26, 2010 at 8:44 am

    So where are the insightful World Cup blogs?? Get off the pot and start writing. Or stay on if that’s where you need to be to write. I want my WC (pun intended) commentary dagnabit!
    BBB

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