For years, the funky trapezoid lane, too-close-for-comfort 3-point line and other wonders of international basketball — spotty officiating, swatting the ball off the rim — were viewed by Americans as not-so-charming idiosyncrasies.
Then the United States began to lose — to Puerto Rico, Greece, Lithuania, Argentina and Spain. And it was not long before nuisance was overrun by another impulse — good old Yankee imperialism.
“We invented the game and then we end up playing in international competition with their ball and their rules, the whole different thing,” said USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo, speaking for pretty much anyone who has represented the United States over the past decade. “You want everyone playing by...