TOP OF THE TOWN ‑   I am not surprised the United States Olympic basketball team has suffered two consecutive defeats in pre-Olympics’ exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia. It’s been decades since the Americans could blast non-competitive teams from around the globe. In that span, other countries have sharpened their basketball skills to the extent now their players are in the NBA. Nine players from Nigeria were selected in the 2020 NBA draft and there are now 107 international players from 41 countries in the league. All 30 teams have at least one international player and the Washington Wizards have seven. These international players are not average players either. Giannis Antetokournmo, the Greek Freak that has 40-plus points in the last two NBA finals’ games for the Milwaukee bucks, is a leading league force. So are Luka Doncic of Dallas (Slovenia) Nikola Jokic of Denver (Serbia) and Rudy Gobert of Utah (France). So the world has caught up with America and is competing on a nearly even keel with the U.S. squad. The era of American domination has passed. So get used to it. There are no more U.S. Dream Teams. That’s a good thing for basketball in general. Competition is good for the sport. The world is no longer afraid. … I noticed something during the Home Run Derby Monday night. Guys with a compact swing finished 1-2. Pete Alonso of the New York Mets won for the second consecutive time by outslugging cancer survivor Trey Mancini of the Baltimore Orioles. Both have compact swings and not the long looping swing that Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels has. Ohtani was the favorite to win, but appeared to be tired and just couldn’t put on full display of power he has shown by hitting 33 home runs, the most in baseball. I find it amusing that Alonso made more in the Home Run Derby then he will this baseball season from the Mets. His salary for the 2021 season is $676,775 and he made $1 million by winning the derby.  Former Seattle Mariners’ Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. won the Home Run Derby three times and was the first to win it back-to-back (1998-99). Griffey was at the derby and it sure looks like Junior has put on a lot of weight. Life must be good for Griffey. OK, I’m outta here. Stay safe.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

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