by Alex Poletti
Basketball has always been an American sport, and the FIBA World Cup rankings for many years showed that. However, by finishing seventh in the 2019 tournament, the United States has officially been knocked off its perch; they do note, though, that they still rank higher in basketball than they do in public education.
“That’s something that’s going to stick with us for the rest of our lives,” team USA and Pacers center Myles Turner says of the semifinal loss to France that knocked them out of contention for their sixth straight major tournament title. “But it really could be worse. We could be a child in any publically-funded classroom in America.”
While seventh is certainly disappointing for the Americans, it’s important to note that the Nifty Fifty ranked 38th in math scores last year and 24th in science, despite having the largest GDP of any country in the world. Many players are cognizant of the fact, having gone through the public education system themselves.
“I mean, so many of us were in public schools,” Donovan Mitchell says. “That probably explains why we lack the intellectual capacity to executive any of Popovich’s plays. Hell, if Poland had just thrown some basic arithmetic at us, we might’ve lost that game, too.”
Generally, the US players are glad that they get to be a part of the seventh-overall basketball statistic instead of the abysmal education numbers.
“It’s possible that in an alternate universe, we would not have fared so well in the school system,” Ames, Iowa, native and public school graduate Harrison Barnes says. “If I wasn’t freakishly tall and hadn’t been exposed to this co-curricular early in life, I may have had to read at some point.”
Even though the finish wasn’t as great as many hoped for, the team still performed admirably, given most of the great American basketball stars, such as LeBron James and Steph Curry, did not participate. Better yet, the roster avoided significant injuries, which is a major plus for the squad.
“I’m glad that we got through this without anybody getting hurt,” head coach Gregg Popovich says. “God forbid that happens: America ranks worse in health care than it does in education.”