Olympic Basketball Becoming More Interesting Now That Everyone’s Punching Each Other in Groin

Olympic Basketball Becoming More Interesting Now That Everyone's Punching Each Other in GroinFacundo Campazzo called it retribution, something akin to eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth — only the body part in question was well south of Carmelo Anthony's pearly whites.

Campazzo went from unknown to infamous in a matter of moments Monday when he landed a punch to Anthony's Syracuse Orangemen during the U.S. men's basketball team's 126-97 victory over Argentina in London. U.S. point guard Chris Paul had delivered a quick blow to Campazzo's own conjones, according to the Argentine guard, so landing a cheap shot when Anthony rose for a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter was merely a little Pan-American justice.

Whether Campazzo's act crossed a line (it did) or whether it was provoked (it might have been), a low blow at least generated something approaching actual drama basketball-wise in these Olympics. Thus far, the most compelling part of early-round play has been the relatively slow starts by the Americans, before they blow the doors off everyone in the second halves. Spain could give the U.S. some stiff competition in the medal round, and Nigeria, Argentina and Australia proved to be no pushovers. Still, the U.S. seems appropriately confident, since they are literally unbeatable when they perform to their suffocating potential defensively.

Then Nicolas Batum hauled back and drilled Juan Carlos Navarro in Wednesday's game between Batum's France and Navarro's Spain, and crotch-clobbering turned out not to be a uniquely New World hobby. The Europeans apparently are just as skilled in the world's most ancient art of dirty fighting.

In fairness to Campazzo, it is entirely possible Paul might have leveled a shot at his nether regions. Paul does have a history of groin-related violence, and it has been caught on video. Paul has a reputation for being an infuriating player to play against, both because he is really good and because, like most crafty point guards, he knows when to stretch the rules when he thinks nobody is looking.

Say this for Batum, Campazzo and allegedly Paul: They have given fans another reason to watch these relatively meaningless pre-medal round games. If the double-digit beatdowns by the U.S. were not intriguing, maybe the possibility that somebody, at any moment, could get hit in the family jewels will draw the "sadistic male viewers ages 18-40" demographic. It could become one of those goofy Las Vegas bets, like "Which Brazilian will be the next player to get clocked in the gonads?"

The smart money here is on guard Marcelinho Huertas getting a right hook to his huertas, which is not a euphemism for you-know-whats but sounds like it should be.

Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.

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