Few things have humiliated American sports fans more than the continued failure of NBA all star teams to compete effectively in international competition. We have grown tired of the NBA's increasingly desperate explanations for each new failure. Any knowledgeable basketball person knew the real reason. Our players sorely lack fundamental skills. They can do a wicked monster jam, they can break your ankles with a crossover dribble and the alley oop is a thing of beauty in their hands. What they can't do is play team defense, move effectively without the ball, hit open shots and make free throws. So when they come up against teams that can, they tend to lose unless they have such a physical advantage that they can overcome their lack of skill. The Washington Post is doing a series of articles that explore how european players are being trained. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/16/AR2006121600712.html Typically in basketball-mad countries like Russia, Serbia or Lithuania, promising players either attend basketball academies or sign with pro teams in their early teens. The pro teams run intense programs for junior players, somewhat similar to Major League baseball's farm system. A team might have 200 junior players under contract, hoping that a few could make their senior team or be sold to the NBA for a big profit. The coaching at these academies and junior programs is intense and highly trained. The Post article contrasts that with this country, where AAU teams are typically coached by poorly trained guys as a sideline. Reading these articles, it's hard not to believe that the NBA will become increasingly dominated by European players and that the US will find it very hard to win in international competition.