Twenty years later, Team USA, wins yet another gold medal in men’s basketball. The comparisons are again too hard to make. There are too many compromises, too many anachronisms that have to be made in order to even think for a moment whether the current lineup of the Dream Team is as good as that of the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. We’ve been over this once and again, and the truth is that as brilliant as Micheal Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were two decades ago, truth is that they never really faced a challenge as the one the Spaniards gave Team USA for the Olympic Gold.
At the beginning of the tournament LeBron James said that the team didn’t want this to be an easy tournament. He said that this was a group of very competitive men who needed to have a real challenge. Well, for a moment there it seemed as if Spain was going to give James and the rest of the 2012 Dream Team way more than they have bargained for. Here is the thing; team USA had been so dominant throughout this tournament that anything but the gold would be an utter failure. And yet, somehow, no one, not even the Spaniards thought this one would be that close. After three quarters of phenomenal basketball the Team USA only held a 1-point lead against the Gasol brothers and what was starting to look as the Spanish Armada. It was an intense, go back-and-forth battle in which neither team seemed to be able to break lose.
At the end, and with a big help from Kevin Durant who guided the Americans efforts with 30-points, the U.S. team was able to break lose in the final minutes to ultimately take a 107-100 victory to defend the gold medal they won 4 years ago in Beijing and repeat the feat in the London 2012 Summer Olympics. Just like it happen four years ago, the Americans had to battle for this one. In Beijing, the Spaniards had a close fight, but eventually folded and took a 118-107 beating. This time around, the game was much more closer than anyone had really expected. LeBron James had to bring out his big guns to make this one happen and he finished the game with 19-points. As a matter of fact, he joined Michael Jordan as the only players to win the NBA title, regular-season MVP, NBA Finals MVP and Olympic gold in the same year.
“It was a good year. It was a great year for me as an individual,” James said in the postgame press conference. “But this right here, it means more than myself, it means more than my name on my back. It means everything to the name on the front. I’m happy that I was able to contribute to this great team. It’s one of the best teams ever.” Overall this was sort of a closing moment for a few of these players. Kobe Bryant, on the one hand, knew well that this was his last chance at Olympic Gold and he finished off the night with 17 points. He needed a solid perfomance to win his second Olympic Gold medal, a little something extra to add to his 5 NBA Championships.