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Let the Black Falcon fly, Mike

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Definitive proof that Coach K used the Rio Olympics to exact his revenge on Harrison Barnes

Olympics - Previews - Day -1 Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

When the final USA Basketball roster was announced earlier this summer, Harrison Barnes’ inclusion on the list raised some eyebrows. Coming off a rough showing in the latter games of the NBA Finals, Barnes hardly seemed destined to represent his country in Rio.

The initial explanation — and it’s never a good sign when you have to explain why a player made your team — was that Barnes has experience playing with other star players, and would be a good glue guy for this star-studded team. It actually made a lot of sense when I first heard it; Team USA is decidedly the most talented team in the world, but the majority of the roster is used to being “the guy.” Maybe a guy like Barnes could be the glue that held those stars together. (Any space guys out there, feel free to check my science on the glue holding stars together thing).

Beyond his proven willingness to defer to his more-talented teammates, Barnes also has a surprising history of dunking on international players. Out of respect for his countrymen, Barnes rarely dunks on American guys, but oh baby will he throw it down on international players. Here are just a few of his victims:

Australia’s Aron Baynes

Remember how much trouble Team USA had with Australia? Well, Harrison couldn’t dunk on them from the bench, Mike.

Turkey’s Ersan Ilyasova

Geographically speaking, Turkey is pretty close to Serbia, who Team USA faces for the Gold Medal this afternoon. Guys from that region tend to have similar playing styles, all of which include a tendency to get yammed on by Harrison Barnes.

Which leads me to...

Serbia and Montenegro’s Nikola Pekovic

I’ll need to fact check this, but this dunk may actually have been the final straw that caused Serbia & Montenegro to officially split, with Pekovic being permanently shunned by Serbia. If that’s true, Barnes has already contributed to today’s win more than any of his teammates.

USA deserter LeBron James

Americans who decline the opportunity to represent Team USA in the olympics are essentially international players in Barnes’ eyes. Turn down Team USA, and Harrison will gladly slam 22 ounces of freedom onto your head.

So, there you have it: Harrison Barnes is really good at dunking on international players; and, who does the USA play against in the Olympics again? Oh yeah, international players. This would have been batting practice for Barnes. Instead, Coach K has largely kept Barnes firmly on the bench.

With all of that in mind, I’m more convinced than ever: This tournament was Coach K’s revenge for Barnes choosing UNC over Duke. Frankly, we should have seen this coming.

Ever since he took the helm of Team USA, Coach K has shamelessly used it to promote his own agenda. He pitches blue chip recruits on his connection to USA Basketball, and his relationship with Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe, etc. He uses the USA Basketball program as a way to get extra face time with those same recruits, while they play for Team USA’s younger teams. He even put a Plumlee brother on Team USA!

It should come as no surprise, then, that he’d use the biggest stage to get a little bit of personal revenge. The 12th roster spot could have gone to anyone — in a lot of years, it’s earmarked for a promising young player, in hopes of getting that player some valuable experience for future international competitions. Hell, he could have put Brandon Ingram on the team, and I almost would have understood it.

Mike didn’t want to invest in the future of USA Basketball, though. No, he decided to use his last Olympics (praise be) to settle an old score, even if it meant chaining his country’s premier posterizer-of-international-players to the bench. Coach K has done some despicable things over the years, but depriving Americans of two weeks of Harrison Barnes dunking on people might be the most repugnant. All of this because Harrison did the intelligent, American thing, and opted to play his college hoops in Chapel Hill.

It’s time to let the Black Falcon fly, Mike. The happiness of the American people is more important than your personal vendetta against Harrison Barnes. Do the patriotic thing and #LetTheBlackFalconFly.