The Rash Has Been Cured

Surprising few, Bruce Bowen has been sent home from the US men's national team as the squad prepares for Saturday's opener in the FIBA World Championships.

Bowen was one of those "good idea, no wait, bad idea" picks for the national team. Yeah, you need roleplayers to fit in with the superstars. You can't run out Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Allen Iverson, and Shaquille O'Neal and hope it works out. You need guys willing to pass, willing to defend, willing to rebound, willing to foul, willing to defer, willing to lead. So guys like Bowen, and Shane Battier, and Brad Miller make sense.

But Mike Krzyzewski is a great enough coach that he can get players like Elton Brand and Gilbert Arenas and Chris Bosh - who are all stars on their own clubs - to be the roleplayers. Even Wade has been more of a roleplayer than you'd think the Finals MVP and a top-three player in the world would be. If you can get these really great players to buy into the team and do what you need them to do instead of everything they are capable of, then you're a lot further along than Larry Brown's 2004 disaster was.

Krzyzewski's success made pure roleplayers who can't do anything besides defend and shoot wide-open corner threes expendable. Bowen was always too old for this team - Miller, at age 30, is borderline and probably won't fulfill his Olympic dream in two years as Kobe and Paul Pierce and Chauncey Billups come back and as Dwight Howard goes from "Man-Child" to "Man-Man." Throw in that Bowen lost about 25 percent of his defensive intensity/prowess in the past year, Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan's joint absence from the sidelines, and Shane Battier's ascent to being one of the best defenders in the world over the last couple years, and it's clear Bowen had no business being on this team. He's just not good enough.

That said, I hope to hell this doesn't rejuvenate him and make him go beserk next season. Yeah, there's still no one for him to guard on the Kings. But Bowen at his best inspires that team, and the last thing those guys need is more inspiration.

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