Saturday, August 23, 2008

Casey's Journal: Gold

(Mavs trainer Casey Smith is also performing those duties for Team USA. He's keeping a journal on life at the Olympics in Beijing.)

Well it really is 4:41am here in Beijing when I start this letter, and I really think that at this point I might not go to sleep. In some ways I feel like I have kind of a lot invested in this whole thing, and in a lot of ways, I am very realistic about how so many more people have much more invested in it than me, but it is exciting to be a part of it nonetheless. Just to have been around so many meetings, practices, games, events all geared towards Sunday at 2:30 and to really be here and only have 40 minutes of basketball left to determine whether or not we were successful. It's just here. Finally.

The game tonight vs. Argentina, really went like the last 3 years of games that we have played vs. them. That being we won big. It’s funny how relative the reality that you are presented can be. The media presents Argentina as this big powerhouse, but in reality, we have played them 3 times since the '04 Olympics (when we lost to them) and beat them easily each time, and tonight was no different. We got out to a big lead, and then had some little let downs, but all in all the guys played very hard and they are just too much when they do that.

(I am now picking up at 7:00 pm local time. I actually did sleep for about 4 hours). The whole thing is now closing and we have all the excitement and anticipation of playing the game mixed with all of the work involved in packing up our supplies, our personal stuff and just overall being ready to go home. I have thoroughly enjoyed Beijing and would seriously consider coming back for vacation.

We just had a light walk through today and a long film session and meeting preparing for Spain. Given that we really beat them in pool play, the thing you have to guard against is a false sense of security, but we are ready to win this thing and get our program back on top where it belongs.

I know I keep saying that I have a lot of stories and what not to tell you guys, but I really am short on time. I attached a picture of Jason and me at practice today, and an ad that I saw in a Nike store here in Beijing. Hey! I know that guy! Hopefully the next dispatch from me is a happy one.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Casey's Journal: The Surreal Life

(Mavs trainer Casey Smith is also performing those duties for Team USA. He's keeping a journal on life at the Olympics in Beijing.)

Three years, over 30 games played together, well over 16 weeks on the road together and it comes down to the next 48 hours. Eighty minutes of basketball will decide if all the effort, time, money, media work, time away from families, etc., all of it worked or not.

It is really strange to be in a position that not winning is complete, abject failure. If we win, everyone says, ‘Well, you guys should win. You have the best players in the world.’ If we lose, everyone says that the players don’t care, we’re too cocky, the rest of the world has caught up … blah, blah, blah. I will say that the team as a whole has a good grasp on the significance of winning this thing.

Yesterday in practice was the most focused I have seen a team. Talk about defensive strategy and really working through scenarios for the game tonight. I was actually impressed. The guys like Kobe, Jason, LeBron have really thought about what we need to do in certain situations, what these players’ strengths are, etc. and they were really dialed in.

Now, what that means for the game tonight, I have no idea, but the general perception that we just roll the ball out and play couldn’t be farther from the truth. Our last game vs. Australia started a little rough for us and we really weren’t doing the things offensively that make us good as a team. Thanks to Coach K, we responded. There really is a lot riding on these next 2 games, more than is probably perceived outside of this group. Anyway, my point is it has been a long haul and it is finally here.

Outside of basketball, the rest of the trip has been interesting, and China is a remarkable country, but I would be lying if I didn’t get the sense that everyone is ready to get home. Today is the 35th day on the road this trip … so yeah, I would say that is definitely long enough.

Lots of other interesting stuff for me, too. I got to go to the Gold Medal women’s beach volleyball yesterday and I got some emails. Apparently they showed Jason on NBC and I was standing next to him. I am sure that event was a ratings win for NBC. Athletic girls + white bikinis + rain = International Happiness. I ran into a couple from Ohio who know where Wellston is. She works for Ohio State and he works for the Ohio Farm Bureau. So I’m in China talking Ohio farming, and I’m such an expert … not. We were at an outdoor cafe and they did like to drink beer, and that is a much stronger topic for me anyway.

One of the women on the women’s basketball team (Katie Smith) is from Logan, Ohio, and I met her parents. I have been to a couple more temples, etc. The traffic here is really mounting here as the Games get ready to come to a close. They have had specific travel restrictions for citizens and automobiles, and I think gradually that has loosened, because the traffic is overwhelming. So the subway has really been the way to go, but the crowds there have been massive as well. Well, off to shootaround, then ready for the big game.

I have attached a couple of random pictures. One is from the dining hall in the Athletes Village. The crowd that you see is the players trying to eat, and the mob scene that they cause just by being there. The best part is you can see where JKidd is sitting. He and I just sat outside of the rest and no one really noticed. I told him he just isn’t that big in China. Too old.

The other is one of me at Temple of Heaven, which is a series of temples built for the emperors to pray for good crops. The best part is adjacent to the temple they have a “Hall of Abstinence” which the emperors had to go for a specified period of time to “purify” themselves prior to praying.


Southwest Division: Major Moves

Ron Artest is in H-town, the youthful Grizz decided to go Greene ... and found Love, those old Spurs are trying to get young, the Hornets brought in a two-time champ and your Mavs swapped out skippers.

It’s been a summer of change in the Southwest Division and the writers from each team’s site are sharing their thoughts about these offseason activities. This three-part series begins with the Major Moves made by the Mavs, Grizzlies, Rockets, Hornets and Spurs.

The next two pieces will focus on Summer League performances and outlooks for the upcoming season. Check out the first installment at

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Casey's Journal: Hangin' with Phelps

(Mavs trainer Casey Smith is also performing those duties for Team USA. He's keeping a journal on life at the Olympics in Beijing.)

Well, it is Wednesday morning here in China, and the big push to the finish starts tonight. We play Australia tonight, and for these next 3 games it is all or none. I can’t believe that after 3 years, all the travel, all the games and practices that this is finally here, and we seem to be in a good position to accomplish our goal.

Our game against Germany the other night was a total walk over. Talk about overwhelmed. It’s a hell of a way for Dirk to go out after playing on his national team for 13 years, but they never had a chance in the game. Those games are big for him, because it is his true set of peers. He has a lot of respect from the guys on our team.

They know that they are the best in the USA, but they also know that he would be on this team were he a US citizen. He is staying for a few more days here in Beijing, and it sounds like he is enjoying himself. He deserves it. I got a picture of him and Boeheim after the game.

We also had a surprise guest come to the locker room after the game, Michael Phelps. It was funny to see all of our guys get a little giddy about the fact that Michael Phelps was there. I got a pic with him. Not a bad week for him, right?

Well, I have got so many things to write about, and I have been really busy but we are leaving for shootaround so I wanted to get this out briefly. I got out to track and field last night and had great seats, 12th row and saw about 3 hours of events. Hot as hell, but a lot of fun.

I got to see the medal presentation for the men's 400m which the US swept, so it was really cool to have the national anthem play and see all 3 US athletes on the stand. It may sound corny, but it really is moving.

I have been using the subway most of the time, but the mass of humanity is unbelievable. I have been to some more temples and parks, done my share of haggling in the market, and met a lot of people, including quite a few folks from Ohio.

Anyway, lots to catch up on, but I gotta run.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympics end for Dirk

The summer of 2008 is one Dirk Nowitzki will always remember. If qualifying for the Olympics wasn't emotional enough, the Big German hoisted his country's flag at the Opening Ceremonies.

It didn't matter that Germany won only one game and finished its run with today's rout at the hands of the Redeem Team. You can't keep score on a dream and Dirk fulfilled his.

Here are the details of Team USA's win over Germany that completed a undefeated run through pool play for the Americans:

The 2008 U.S. Men's Olympic Team (5-0) compiled 40 minutes of total domination in its final preliminary round game against Germany (1-4), recording its largest margin of victory yet with a 106-57 win Monday night at Wukesong Arena in Beijing, China.

Less than seven minutes into the first quarter, the USA had taken a 20-3 lead, which only continued to grow with each quarter. The USA improved a 19-point advantage at the end of the first quarter to a 24-point lead at halftime, a 37-point lead after three periods and was up by 49 points as the final buzzer sounded.

Everybody scored for the USA, led by 22 points from Dwight Howard, 18 points from LeBron James, 13 points from Kobe Bryant and 10 points from Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade.