(cheer up Black America, Mike and Jerry are looking out for your collective self-esteem)

“In conversations with black friends and other black sports figures, it’s become evident that a lot of African-Americans are taking a pretty personal interest in seeing the United States men’s basketball team succeed” claimed ESPN’s Jemele Hill yesterday. “The Redeem Team — what an appropriate nickname — is not only dispelling notions about American basketball,” continued Hill “but showing that black NBA superstars are just as patriotic, coachable, team-oriented, fundamentally sound, mannerable, hard-working, and disciplined as their foreign basketball brethren.”  Her unique take on contemporary hoops and wider culture has Sports On My Mind‘s D.K. Wilson wondering, “vidication for what, exactly? Vindication for malfeasant acts by the press and shock jocks, including those of ESPN Radio, who used the losses of the 2004 US Men™s National Team in Athens as their personal race-bait pulpit?”

Four years ago players like Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant begged off the Olympic team fearing their personal safety; 9-11 was why Colangelo and Brown could not procure the commitment of the NBA™s best American players, not some pap about trumped-up, jingoistic ideals. in 2006 the dynamic white duo of Colangelo and Krzyzewski took the US team to a veteran™s hospital to visit troops who had been maimed in the Iraq War. That visit and K™s many national pride speeches did nothing for the team™s morale – they still lost.

The problem was the makeup of the 2004 team. The problem wasn™t tattoos or cornrows, but a team of position misfits with too many young players at or near the top of the food chain.

So, if I™m getting all this straight, we are to believe that the black community was devastated by the US Men™s basketball losses of 2004 and haven™t recovered since.

Maybe we can be blamed for the downturn of the US economy. After all, we™ve been so busy grieving over our lost sense of collective pride since 2004 that we have not been able to show face and shop till we drop like good little consumers. After all, when 13 % of your population is doing nothing but working and hitting the Mickey Dees drive-thru for the family dinner and immersed in a Diaspora-wide self-imposed exile from the local strip mall, what happens to the rest of the country?

Thank god for white people taking up the slack for us and going into ever-deepening debt for us and by doing so, showing us the American ideal, huh?

I find it curious that all these black people Hill spoke with find their sense of self worth tied to a basketball team. Neither I nor any black person I know or speak with on any regular basis derives any feeling of special pride in the US Men™s National team winning the gold medal. And the team™s losing would cause us no particular personal angst.

Hey, attributing sentiments to persons you either can’t or won’t name is all the rage. It’s hard to calculate which is lamer, Jemele Hill’s compulsion to act as a conduit between her “black friends” and a national audience, or another pseudo-journalist who presents himself as the everyfan’s shoulder to cry on.