In a stunning upset over the weekend, Team USA basketball fell to Nigeria in an exhibition tune-up before the rapidly approaching Olympic Games. Although the U.S. entered the game heavily favored, the Gregg Popovich-led squad could never separate itself from its opponents and lost 90-87.
The loss for Team USA is a slap in the face, but doesn’t mean that the group won’t be among the gold medal contenders later this summer. For Nigeria, the win is nothing short of historic.
Stephen A. Smith dedicated time during a First Take segment on Monday to talk about the game. However, as he tore down a shorthanded Team USA, he also managed to completely dismiss Nigeria, who rightfully earned the victory over the weekend.
“There’s no excuse to lose to Nigeria… [To lose to] some dude Gabe Nnamdi, who goes by Gabe Vincent and plays for the Miami Heat. Or Caleb Agada. Or Nma… however the hell you pronounce his name,” Smith declared. “You give up 60 points on 3’s? Excuse me, you can do better than that.”
Nigeria basketball didn’t take kindly to Smith’s comments or his blatant disregard for the correct pronunciation of the player’s names. The group sent a stern message to the ESPN host after the disappointing segment.
“A one minute clip with no basketball analysis and pure disrespect to the names of our culture. Do better please Stephen A. Smith. This is low, even for you,” the national team’s Twitter account wrote in response to the segment.
A one minute clip with no basketball analysis and pure disrespect to the names of our culture.
— D’Tigers | Nigeria Basketball (@NigeriaBasket) July 12, 2021
Smith might be right about Team USA’s performance, but to dismiss Nigeria’s accomplishment is downright unfair. Improperly pronouncing the names of the Nigerian players in such a callous manner is even more unacceptable and shouldn’t be tolerated.
Nigeria’s win over Team USA provided further evidence that the game of basketball is growing around the world. Nigerian players like KZ Okpala, Gabe Vincent and Precious Achiuwa are some of the brightest up-and-comers in the NBA and now earned some well-deserved recognition for themselves and their country with this weekend’s victory.
Both Team USA and Nigeria will be in action later this month at the Tokyo Olympics, but will play in different groups, meaning they can’t meet until the knockout rounds. The first game of the event will take place on July 24.