Team USA pushes the boat out for NBA stars, but it's not all plain sailing
Life on a luxury liner isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, apparently – even when that cruise ship is dedicated to housing the USA Olympic basketball players during the Rio Games.
Because of distractions and security concerns generated by the high profile nature of the men’s team, USA Basketball has been placing players outside the Olympic village since NBA stars first represented their homelands at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
This time, the US men’s and women’s teams are sharing a 158-metre, 196-cabin cruise ship called the Silver Cloud, which is docked at Pier Maua and rigorously protected by walls of bulletproof glass and tight security.
But four-time Olympian Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks didn’t seem to see the reason to be on anything but dry land.
Asked Thursday to list the advantages of the team’s situation, he frowned. “I don’t know. I see disadvantages, I’ll tell you that,” he said. “The beds are not big. The rooms are small. There are some disadvantages of staying on the ship.
“They put us there. We don’t make that call. It’s an Olympic sponsorship, so we’re staying on a ship that’s sponsored by an Olympic sponsor. It’s no different than us staying in a hotel. It’s not like we’re cruising around. We’re docked. We have the same amenities if we were staying in a hotel. I don’t really see why.”
The US men, who outscored their opponents by an average of 43 points in five warm-up games, will begin play Saturday against China, an exhibition game opponent defeated by 49 and 50 points.
As bad as the shipboard accommodations might be, they probably exceed those of Australian basketball player Andrew Bogut in the Athletes’ Village.
Using the hashtag #IOCLuxuryLodging, he tweeted a photo of himself with the caption, “Putting together a shower curtain so we can shower and not flood the place.”
Dubbing their shipboard accommodation a “bo-tel”, US women’s player Sue Bird said “it has more options. There’s more restaurants generally speaking. There’s more places to hang out. It’s really easy to live on that for these two weeks.”
Los Angeles Clippers centre DeAndre Jordan had nothing but praise for Team USA’s floating lodgings. “It’s been great. The hospitality here has been amazing,” he said. “The people have been extremely nice to us. The boat’s super cool.”
Jordan, who has frequently expressed his delight over being a first-time Olympian, said he loves the Team USA gear he received, especially the jackets.
“And the shorts are nice. I get to show off my legs,” he said. “Anything I get, I’m looking at it like, ‘Wow, Olympic national team.’ That’s crazy just to look at it and put it on and be like, ‘I’m DeAndre and I’m representing our country along with 11 other great guys’.”
He said of Saturday’s opponents, “China play extremely hard. They’re physical,” and he singled out Houston Rockets draft pick Zhou Qi as someone who could give the US trouble.
“They’ll definitely be a tough opponent. We can’t take these guys lightly,” he said. “We’ve got to come out and play USA basketball.”