This week, the International Olympic Committee announced that, along with a handful of other new events, 3-on-3 basketball would be included in the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
Well, hey, that’s a fun new wrinkle. Traditional 5-on-5 basketball at the Olympic level has gotten rather stale, with the foregone drama of “which group of second-tier American stars will cruise to gold over various Gasols”. Bringing in the playground variant of the game, and playing in unique venues, a la beach volleyball, has the potential to really liven up the sport’s international competition.
But, you know, the top-flight NBA players aren’t likely to play in it. Many already eschew international play, given the demands of their professional season - and those who do play will likely stick to the traditional game.
“Well, they’ll probably use college players,” you say, interrupting me rudely as I write. Yeah. Sure. That’s probably true. But you know what? I don’t know anything about college basketball right now. I live in Louisville, Kentucky, smack between two of the most passionate and hate-filled fanbases in the sport. I tune it out. It’s like two raccoons fighting in my trash cans. Just gotta hope they get their fill and leave by morning.
Besides, the college players who might be available in 2020 are like, 15 years old now. I don’t know who’s going to be any good. No, my premise here is simple:
If you were constructing 3-on-3 Olympic basketball teams using only mascots from one FBS conference, what would they be?
It’s June and this website is free to visit, I remind you. Let’s begin.
The Atlantic Coast Conference
Great, we’ll start simple, this is a basketball conference with mostly humanoid mascots. Plenty of good options. I’ll go with:
- The Louisville Cardinal
- The Duke Blue Devil
- Rameses, the North Carolina Tarheel
It’s a Team of Rivals! Lincoln would be so proud if he saw this. He’s dead, though. Shot in the head. Very sad.
I know what you’re saying, “but what about Syracuse??” (that’s the official motto of Syracuse University, by the by: Quae Circa Syracusas). Sure, they’ve got the basketball pedigree, but look at Otto.
He’s all ass. He’s a low-post player, and I don’t think he’d keep up with the pace of the half-court game.
The Big 12
- The Texas Tech Red Raider
- Oklahoma State’s Pistol Pete
- The West Virginia Mountaineer
I know what you’re thinking. A league with a pre-eminent basketball power like Kansas, and you’re picking these three schools? Hear me out: I watched that 30 For 30 on the 1980s Celtics last night, and think we’ve forgotten the basketball potential of “a bunch of skeevy white guys who might strip the copper piping out of the locker room at halftime.”
- Smokey, the blue tick hound from Tennessee
Please note that I firmly believe Air Bud is real and dogs can play basketball, and if you want to prove me wrong, then you stage a basketball game with dogs in it and I will happily attend. Seriously, you should do that.
- War Eagle, Auburn
If dogs can play basketball, why can’t an eagle? Would he pop the ball, and get his talons stuck, and then flop around on the floor until he’d need to be sedated and given fluids? Maybe. Would that be any worse than a normal SEC basketball game?
- The Kentucky Wildcat
Look, I didn’t want to include him either. But if you mention Louisville and not them, they’ll burn your house down.
- Ralphie the Buffalo, Colorado
Look, I said 3-on-3 doesn’t favor post-up players, but you should see her drive the lane.
- Sparky the Sun Devil, Arizona State
Per Wikipedia, “Sparky is officially known as a ‘mischievous imp’, with no other backstory than that.” That’s exactly Matthew Dellavedova, and he’s an NBA champion.
- RoboDuck, Oregon
You thought he was dead, but he’s been playing pro ball in Serbia for the last six years.
The Big Ten
- Testudo, the Maryland Terrapin
Terrifying, mean creature who lives in swamps and might bite you. Just like Maryland fans.
- Purdue’s mascot, no, not the creepy hammer guy, the other one. THE ACTUAL TRAIN.
Oh, sure, people aren’t going to like this. You can’t bring an actual train on the court. You’re going to destroy the floor and kill people and that’s not their primary mascot and you know what? You’re going to be too busy guarding-
- A Michigan alumnus asking to speak to the manager
EXCUSE ME. SIR? SIR. SIR. THERE IS CLEAR PRECEDENT FOR MY REQUEST, AND AS SOMEONE WHO HOLDS A JURIS DOCTORATE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, I EXPECT FULL SATISFACTION IN THIS AND ALL MATTERS. IF YOU REVIEW THE CASE LAW IN MULHOLLAND V. BIG BOY, SWEET POTATO FRIES ARE AN IN-KIND SUBSTITUTION AND SHOULD NOT BE SUBJECT TO USURIOUS SURCHARGES, AND FURTHERMORE, [train dunks in background]