At this summer’s Olympic Games the USA basketball team will not only be one of the top draws, but it will also be the most closely followed and intensely scrutinized team in London.
The team — which consists of 12 NBA players includes the likes of superstars such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant — is rightfully expected to win gold in the men’s basketball event.
And while players such as Kobe and LeBron will garner the majority of the team’s media attention it is Anthony Davis, the last player on the team’s bench, that most millennials will best relate to.
Davis’s role on the team can even be seen as symbolic of millennials in society today.
Davis, who played one year at the University of Kentucky, celebrated his 19th birthday in March. That same month, the 6-foot-11 player led his Wildcats team to an NCAA championship while leading the team in most statistical categories. After the season he won every major player of the year award, went on to legally trademarked his unique unibrow, was selected first overall in June’s NBA draft by the New Orleans Hornets, and was given a spot on Team USA’s roster after injuries to big men Dwight Howard, LeMarcus Aldrige, Chris Bosh, and Blake Griffin.
However, despite being the most lauded and impactful college basketball player in two decades, Davis’s minutes in London will be limited and he will seldom be given an opportunity to showcase his vast array of skills. Instead, USA coach Mike Krzyzewski has made it clear that Davis will likely not be on the court at big moments and the team will instead utilize NBA big-men Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love at Davis’s center position.
Many in the basketball world feel that Davis, who was a 6-foot-2 shooting guard until a freak growth spurt rounded him out to his current height late in high school, would be a perfect fit in international play (which is a different, more shoot-and-defend style of play compared to the NBA) due to his ability to pass effectively and shoot from the perimeter while also being able to play shutdown defense in the post. However, despite the fact that Chandler’s offensive game is nearly non-existent and Love’s form leading up to the summer games has been subpar at best, these two will see Davis’s minutes in London.
In short, despite being more suited for the job and despite the valuable tools Davis would bring to the table, he will have to wait his turn in favor of his more established colleagues.
Despite the proper credentials and training in terms of education or work experience, many millennials are simply not allowed to positively contribute the atmosphere of the work they might be doing. Instead, many are relegated to watch everything unfold on the sidelines and remain planted firmly on the bench. While no one can argue that experience is mandatory to be successful in any endeavor and that a young person cannot simply walk from one platform to another with no growing pains, it is also clear that, like Davis, many millennials who are positively able to contribute to their team are not able to do so.
And, also like Davis, the shame in them not being able to do so stems from the fact that many millennials bring new assets to the table that few others can, regardless of age or experience level. In the case of Davis on Team USA it is his length, athleticism in the post, and stalwart defense which would enable him to be so valuable to the Olympic team. Whereas in the case of countless millennials it is the drive, innovative spirit, and fresh perspective to static issues that would enable them to be so valuable to their own respective teams.
After watching Davis dominate college basketball during his lone season, there is little doubt that he would be able to contribute if called upon by Team USA.
Whether or not he will be given the chance to do so, as is the case with the rest of us, remains to be seen.