Olympics Basketball: Team USA: Officially the Dream Team now
It was close. It was a lot closer than USA would have been comfortable with. All along, this new Dream team knew that their Achilles heel is inside the paint. With Spain fielding Pau and Marc Gasol along with Serge Ibaka, they always posed a formidable threat to challenge Team USA for what the Americans have come to accept as something taken for granted – a Gold medal. Yeah, the 2004 collapse notwithstanding. Imagine a bronze being deemed as a collapse. That shows how high the expectations are for USA’s basketball team. Anything less than a Gold medal in basketball is frowned upon. It’s not enough to win, they have to win in a convincing fashion to leave no room for doubt about their dominance. Mark my words, the next few days will be full of talk about how close Spain got to almost pulling off an upset. And the 5-point victory over Lithuania will be cited too.
Imagine a victory being cited as an example of lack of dominance. ‘We want to win. It don’t matter. We still believe that if we win by one or two points, we’re still going to believe that this team is better than ’08,’ said Carmelo Anthony.
Here’s the thing about basketball matches. Teams trade blows trying to pull away. A disproportionate number of games in the NBA go right down to the wire, last few possessions. That’s when the superstars pull away and earn their keep. This USA team being chock-a-block full of stars, albeit at a shorter size, earned their keep in the 4th quarter.
The Gasol brothers looked very dominant early on. And their size was supplemented by La Bomba, Juan Carlos Navarro. Navarro briefly played for the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA. The bomb as he’s known for his long range bombs, started off with three threes and one of them being a 3 point play.
LeBron James finished with 19 points and Kevin Durant added 30. There was a lot of star-power supporting team USA. Maybe the presence of Vin Diesel, David Beckham and Arnold the terminator (don’t ask me to spell his last name. I’m still reciting USA coach Mike Krzyzewski’s full name). Someday I’ll be able to rattle it from memory, but not if Schwarzenegger keeps popping up. An easy name to remember is Kobe Bryant. And his deeds have made it easier to remember it. His leadership and unflinching confidence paved the way for USA. He’s always willing to take the big shots, there was a time in the game when Team USA looked hesitant to pull the trigger from a distance, but Kobe fired a couple of long range bombs and brought life back into the USA team.
The dream team has done it. Whether they are good enough to beat the old dream team of Jordan, Bird et al remains to be seen. But I’ll wager that the old guys didn’t have to go up against a team like Spain ever.
Early on Spain set the tone. Maybe if they had lulled USA into lowering their guard and started off slow, they could have had a better chance. Yeah, start off by kicking yourself and then catch the opponent by surprise. What a Machiavellian strategy! And that’s why I’m not a coach.
Is it going to take suck wacky tactics to get the best of this unstoppable juggernaut? Maybe someday this unbeatable collection of superstars from the NBA can be beaten. But it’s not today.