While their competition deals with clogged drains, leaky pipes, electrical outages, and other borderline “uninhabitable” living conditions, the American basketball teams will be living large abroad a luxury cruise liner docked in the Port of Rio for the 2016 Olympic games.
According to various media reports, the US men’s and women’s basketball teams will not stay in the Olympic Village, a cluster of lodgings where nearly every other country’s delegations (including other US athletes) live for the duration of the games. Instead, they’ll stay on the Silver Cloud, a ritzy 300-passenger ship with its own gym, pool, bar, and most of all, beds that can accommodate very tall humans.
Unlike the majority of Olympic athletes, US basketball players are global celebrities, each worth millions of dollars in contracts and endorsements. While several of the world’s best players, like LeBron James, elected to skip the Olympics, the men’s roster is still filled with famous NBA players, including Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Carmelo Anthony.
The cruise liner is surrounded by a bulletproof fence, and will be guarded by hundreds of police offers, the Telegraph reported. Federal police will also patrol the waters around the ship, which was commissioned by computer network company Cisco, one of the team’s sponsors.
US basketball teams have not stayed in the Olympic Village since 1988—the last year before professional players were allowed to play in the Olympics. The teams stayed in hotels in London (2012) and Beijing (2008), and even stayed on a cruise ship once before, at the 2004 games in Athens.
Andrew Bogut, an Australian basketball player who also plays in the NBA, complained on Twitter this week about his room in the Olympic Village. He was apparently forced to construct his own shower curtain so that his apartment would not flood. Last week, the Australian delegations had refused to move into the village before electrical and plumbing problems were corrected. Athletes reported that they were robbed during a fire evacuation on Friday (July 29).
American basketball players won’t have to worry about any of that, aboard their 514-foot (156 meters) long, fortified ocean liner. But that doesn’t mean its has no downsides.
When they last stayed on a cruise ship in 2004, Carmelo Anthony complained of feeling isolated. “We was stuck on a boat,” he said. “We really didn’t have a chance to interact with nobody.” That year, the men’s team was a massive disappointment, winning only the bronze medal after they were expected to win gold rather easily.
This year’s squad, which again is the heavy favorite for gold, should hope that there’s no curse of the cruise ship.