Call me unpatriotic for saying this, and feel free to fill my inbox with hate mail or go online and leave comments expressing how un-American I am. But when it comes to rooting for the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team at this summer's Olympics, I'm going to take a pass and root for Lithuania.
I am a proud American and I do want to see our athletes do well. But the selfishness expressed by Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade's comments about how he feels that he should be compensated for his time just really chaps my behind.
Wade was quoted on ESPN.com earlier this week saying, "The biggest thing is now you get no rest. So you go to the end of the season. (Team USA) training camp is two weeks later. You're giving up a lot to do it. It's something you want to do. But it's taxing on your body. You're not playing for the dollar. But it would be nice if you would get compensated."
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Mr. Wade, need I remind you that part of the Olympic spirit is having the opportunity to represent your country and not so much your bank account.
If you feel that playing basketball and representing your country is going to take time out of your summer, then tell that to the Greco-Roman wrestler, who trains day-in and day-out to make the team, but at night has to work at the Home Depot to support a wife and kids, who support him as he chases his Olympic dream of representing his country.
Or tell that to some of the smaller African nations who show up to the Olympics with teams consisting of maybe three people and are not expected to medal. Their biggest thrill is being able to march into the Olympic Stadium behind their country's flag for the opening ceremonies.
There are some rewards in this world that are not reflected by the number of zeros in your bank balance. Having the opportunity to represent your country in the Olympics is one of them.
This whole story got me to thinking about a scene from the movie, "Miracle," which is about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. In one scene, coach Herb Brooks is making the hockey team skate up and down the ice until one of his players comes up with the right answer to the question, "Who do you play for?" When a player says Boston College or University of Minnesota, he makes them skate and it's not until when one player gives the answer USA that he makes them stop.
In quoting Brooks, who I'm sure would be making Mr. Wade run up and down the court until he got that through his skull, "When you pull on that jersey, you represent yourself and your teammates. And the name on the front is a hell of a lot more important than the one on the back! Get that through your head!"
Mr. Wade talks about the time and the need for rest after the NBA season, but may I remind him that the Olympics only come around every four years, so I'm sure he can suck it up, and donate his basketball talents every four years to represent his country.
To Wade's credit, he did back off of his comments saying, "I do not want to be paid to go to the Olympics." And later tweeted that pride for his country "motivates me more than any $$$ amount."
But the notion that Wade would even suggest that he should be paid to play in the Olympics, and to represent his country goes against what the Olympics is all about and is a complete disrespect to the Olympic movement.
The Olympics is a chance for people from across the world to put down their swords and unite. In this country, it is a rare chance for Democrats, Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives to put aside political differences and unite to cheer on their fellow countrymen as they chase the gold.
It's also a chance for all Americans to take a moment and sing along to the national anthem while watching the Stars-and-Stripes rise above all the other flags, and share in the joy of our athletes' triumphs.
If you are looking for compensation Mr. Wade, that is your compensation, and if you or some of your other teammates feel that you should be paid then maybe it's time for you to be replaced with others who understand the true meaning of the Olympic spirit.
Because as Brooks said, "The name on the front of your jersey is more important than the name on the back," and when you wear the Heat jersey, you are only representing the city of Miami, but when you put on the Team USA jersey you represent not just me, but 300 million plus Americans.
You're representing a country. How you carry yourself on the world stage reflects upon every American. Get that through your head Mr. Wade.