- Bradley Beal is out of the Tokyo Olympics after a positive COVID-19 test. Jerami Grant has been placed in COVID protocol due to contact tracing though is still with the team as of now.
- Kevin Love is withdrawing from Team USA with the explanation that his calf injury is keeping him from returning to competitive form.
- Despite the defections and pre-Olympic struggles Team USA remains an overwhelming betting favorite to win the Gold Medal in Tokyo.
The Tokyo Summer Olympics is shaping up to be a potential nightmare for Team USA. They were shocked by Nigeria in exhibition play, losing outright as a -30.5 pointspread favorite in what ranks among the biggest ATS upsets in basketball history. They followed that up with a loss to Australia as a -15 point favorite. After a beatdown over overmatched Argentina they’ve mercifully had their final exhibition game–a rematch with Australia–cancelled.
The reason it was cancelled is yet another setback for Team USA. Washington Wizards’ shooting guard Bradley Beal tested positive for COVID-19 and is out of the Olympics. As of this writing, Detroit forward Jerami Grant is also in COVID protocol for contact tracing but coach Gregg Popovich remains optimistic that he’ll remain with the team. That apparently leaves Popovich as the only person with ‘optimism’ surrounding Team USA and the situation worsened further with the latest news that forward Kevin Love is withdrawing.
“I’m dying for [Beal]. We all are. Since he was a little kid, this has been a dream of his, and he was playing great. … For him and his immediate family, it’s devastating. We just feel horrible about it.”
Yet not enough of ‘a dream’ for Beal to bother getting vaccinated. Team USA forward Draymond Green–who apparently hasn’t watched the news during the past 16 months–is shocked that COVID is actually a thing:
“It’s costing people opportunities of a lifetime. It sucks. We all came in hoping we wouldn’t be affected by it. It’s just not the way it’s gone.”
You’d think the 190 million cases of COVID worldwide along with 4 million plus deaths might have given Green a clue that ‘hoping we wouldn’t be affected by it’ might not have been sufficient.
More recently, Team USA lost another player when Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love announced that he was withdrawing and wouldn’t travel to Tokyo for the Olympics. According to his agent, Jeff Schwartz, his client wanted no part of what could potentially be an epic grease fire. Actually, he said ‘Ow! My calf! and indcated that the calf injury that kept him out of action for a good chunk of the NBA season was still causing him problems. Schwartz also released this terse quote purportedly from Love:
“I am incredibly disappointed to not be heading to Tokyo with Team USA but you need to be at absolute peak performance to compete at the Olympic level and I am just not there yet.”
Ironic, since Team USA is ‘just not there yet’ either. As of this writing, Team USA’s final exhibition game against Spain is still on for Sunday after which any team members that haven’t caught COVID or otherwise opted out will board a charter for Japan.
Despite the obvious problems with Team USA they remain a massive favorite to win the Gold Medal in Tokyo. BetOnline.ag has them priced at -600 to win the men’s basketball competition ahead of Australia (+900), Spain (+1000), France (+2000), Slovenia (+2000), Argentina (+3300) and Nigeria (+3300). Slovenia at +2000 looks like an excellent value given the presence of the monstrous Luka Doncic. This is Slovenia’s first ever Olympic berth and unlike the US team they’re legitimately excited to be there.