Columnist Noah Perkins will be covering the 2014 FIBA World Cup for One-Bid Wonders. Leading up to the Aug. 30 tip-off, he will be previewing all 24 qualified teams.
Anderson Varejao is like the NBA’s version of Pharrell Williams. In the same way Pharrell’s face remains wrinkle free, Andy’s hair stay voluminous, incandescent and luminescent no matter how much time passes. Having once rocked similar hair, I can attest first hand to the challenges that accompany this type of perfection.
Where the hell does time disappear to? Varejao has been playing in the NBA since 2004; Nene since 2002 and Leandro Barbosa since ’03. Even Tiago Splitter is on the cusp of turning 30.
Watching this core group of Brazilians develop together over the past decade has been the international basketball equivalent of millennials watching the Simpsons — except the Brazilian national team hasn’t gotten stale, redundant and stupid yet.
These guys still ball up.
This past season Varejao put up a respectable eight points and 10 boards a game; Nene shot better than 50-percent from the floor, and Tiago Splitter was key role player on the NBA champion Spurs.
Even Leandro Barbosa, whose NBA career is winding down, still provides a strong scoring option off of the bench for Brazil. Keep in mind, during the 2012 Olympics he averaged 16 points a game while shooting over 40 percent from the floor.
Brazil might be known for soccer, but people seriously overlook how good they have been on the court since the inception of Olympic basketball. (Side note: I have so far resisted the temptation to trash soccer, which I refuse to call ‘Futbol,’ but in all seriousness: Fuck soccer, this is the real World Cup.)
Any way back to Brazil: They have won three Olympic Bronze’s on the hardwood dating back to 1948. Not to mention two Gold’s at the World Cup, and a gaggle of Pan-Am and FIBA Americas victories.
From Oscar Schmidt to Fab Melo (thank god he’s not on this team), this is a nation with one of the richest basketball histories in the world.
Beyond the known commodities on this team are several old ball players who have been there and done that, time after time. Sorry for the clichés, but as the oldest squad in the tournament, with a median age of 31, this is a team that has experienced every on court situation imaginable. Hell, 39-year-old shooting guard Marcelo Machado has been playing on the national team since before Monica Lewinsky was a thing. (more…)