The United States men’s basketball team goes for yet another gold medal today against Serbia.
That’s pretty impressive considering their rough go of the tournament so far. The Olympic trail has been a bumpy one for Team USA since they entered the elimination rounds. But, through all of the second-guessing and hand wringing from the media, here we are.
The Americans aren’t as talented as in past campaigns. That does not mean that they are not a threat to take the gold in Rio. The team still has the likes of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony on the roster.
Serbia are not going to go down without a fight. This squad has given the U.S. fits for stretches of the last game they played against each other.
The Eastern Europeans are bigger in the frontcourt and they have a sense of continuity that this “Dream Team” cannot lay claim to.
Their mix of creative passing and ball movement came very close to upsetting the Americans last week. All this leads us to believe we are in for one heck of a game. But, how does it stack up against that last couple of Gold Medal Games:
2012 – The Rematch Against Spain
In 2012, Team USA got another crack at the Spanish team in the Gold Medal Game. It was a rematch of the 2008 Olympic Final, which we will mention in a second.
The Americans did not retain all of their players from the “Redeem Team” but they still had a crazy assemblage of talent. The Spain team always seems to make the U.S. work in spite of the overall talent difference.
Pau Gasol kept his squad close with 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the contest. In the end, America had LeBron James and Chris Paul while Spain did not.
LeBron ended the game with 19 points, including a clutch three-pointer with the game in the balance and a rim-rattling dunk. Kevin Durant also scored 30 points in the game which made him the first to do that in a Gold Medal Final.
Not as dominant but, still a wildly entertaining game.
2008 – The Redeem Team v.s. Spain
The 2008 U.S. mens basketball team was brought together to defeat the Spanish team and claim gold. In Beijing, the Americans finally resembled their past selves in that they regularly dominated the competition.
The Spaniards got off to a hot start while hitting seven of their first nine shots from the field. However, a 10-point scoring outburst from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade helped stabilize Team USA in the early going.
Spain hung around until the fourth quarter when Rudy Fernandez hit a triple to bring them within a possession of the United States. Both Wade and Kobe Bryant had some heroic moments in the final period to help keep the Americans ahead for good.
This game is remembered as one of the biggest tests that Team USA faced in their quest to reclaim their place atop of international basketball.
Bryant’s huge four point play is remembered as one of the defining moments of his career along with his championships and Finals MVP awards.If we get anything like those two classics against Spain, then we are going to witness some excellent basketball.