Tag: team USA
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.
Few teams in Olympic Sports face as high expectations as the Team USA’s men basketball squad. For starters, the dream team is now officially on it’s 20th Anniversary, and although the legacy has seen its ups and downs in the last two decades, anything but a gold medal is utter failure for the nation that holds the most competitive professional basketball league in the world. So yes, when the NBA-star filled Team USA goes into play, it is win or go home, every time, no matter who’s in front of them. This time, to open up their play at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, Team USA played against France and burst the game open in the second half to take an easy 98-71 win on Sunday.
The Oklahoma City Thunder star, Kevin Durant, took the top-performer honors for the North Americans, with 22 points, while his rival in the 2012 NBA Finals and this year’s NBA championship winner LeBron James of the Miami Heat, pitched in with 8 assists to round up a solid yet rough around the corners performance. Four years ago, the core of this team won Olympic Gold in Beijing and now they are trying real hard to do the same thing. But sometimes, out of the court, they have this tendency to become a little cocky. Both LeBron James and the LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant have hinted one way or another that they could defeat the original Dream Team of the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. A couple of the original members have been quick to comeback with some answers to those comments. Larry Bird, for example, said that of course they could defeat them, he was now almost fifty years old.
Certainly enough there is no way to really know if this version of the Dream Team could actually defeat Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and the rest of the 11 future hall of famers that made that 1992 trip to the Olympics such a magical and game changing experience. One thing is for sure, they made it look much more easier then than what this team has shown. Sure enough Team USA was never in any real trouble playing against the French team. Even their biggest star, the San Antonio Spurs point guar Tony Parker seemed to be playing a little slow. Sure he had to undergo eye surgery a couple of weeks ago after he injured his left eye in a pub fight in New York City, but the google wearing Frenchman was not at his best. Neither where the other 5-NBA playing French players that hold it up strong in the first quarter, but eventually succumbed to the star ridden dream team.
The American would have plenty of time to improve in the second half. Let’s not forget that they struggled a little through a foul-filled first half in which the Americans were whistled for 18 personals fouls. Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook spent the final six minutes of the second quarter on the bench after picking up their third fouls. And by the end of the first quarter the French where down 22-21. But things got flying in the third quarter and by the last period there was no doubt the team USA would end up with an overwhelming victory. There is still plenty of work to be done, but things are looking bright for the Olympic Gold.
The LA Lakers star is not too happy with the proposal given out by the NBA Commissioner David Stern for the future of USA Basketball. Stern is proposing a switch to a system similar to that used in men’s Olympic soccer. The idea would be to have a 23 and-under competition with three overage players allowed per country. On the other hand, all NBA players would remain eligible for the quadrennial FIBA World Championship. This would follow the same pattern that soccer does with the FIFA World Cup. Now, to cut down on the pressure set upon some of the NBA owners, this model would give share of revenues in return to the NBA Teams for allowing their top players to participate.
The USA National Basketball Team is already in London, ready to prove once again that they are still the most dominant basketball squad in the World. Sure enough Team USA has seen both the best and worst of the NBA, but this year, the team wants to find a spot among the best of the best. It’s hard to forget that in the Summer Olympic games at Barcelona back in 1992, the Dream Team would go ahead and put on one of the most overwhelming performance by a basketball team when the Dream Team took control of the tournament. Then again, a few years ago, things went south when Team USA in 2004 became known as the Nightmare team when it failed to bring the gold medal back home from the Olympic Games in Athens. This is by far the worst performance a USA National basketball team has ever had in an international. They didn’t even managed to win Silver, they had to go home with a bronze medal.
But that’s a thing of the past. This new Dream Team is looking strong and it seems as if its going to be up to LeBron James to get things rolling for the squad down the stretch. The star powers is certainly as attractive as it was exactly twenty years ago when the original Dream Team that include the likes of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, John Stockton among others stars. This time around it is LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul making the headlines, but the talent is there just as well.
Injuries have certainly hurt the overall squad, but there is plenty of talent from where to fish from. Still, some players could be seriously missed such as Derrick Rose who’s out with a knee injury as is, Dwight Howard and his back problems, Dwyane Wade with his sore knee, Chris Bosh’s abdominal muscle, LaMarcus Aldridge knee and Chauncey Billups who tore his Achilles tendon. Once in training, Team USA lost Blake Griffin to a re-aggravated knee injury that this week required arthroscopic surgery.
Team USA outplayed the Brazilian National team in their last exhibition game in Washington D.C. before taking an overnight fly to London where the squad will get ready for the Olympic games. They are certainly the favorite squad to bring home the gold medal.
A few people out there would say that some things are funny. That is, some things are funny until somebody get’s hurt. The newly formed USA Olympic Basketball team is yet to make it’s first trip over to the London Summer Olympics in 2012 and yet, rumor has it, some of the players involved are taking some guesses as to see if these team has the same potential and star-driven force as the original Dream Team that went on to the Barcelona Summer Olympics in 1992. Twenty years ago, it was up to Micheal Jordan, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, and you get the idea, right?
Two decades later, things are certainly different. For the first time in years the star-power is finally anywhere similar to the original dream team, and although the other national basketball teams fighting for Olympic gold have seriously uplifted their game, chances are still as good as they got for team USA. The 2012 Olympic team consists of returning 2008 Olympic gold medal winners small forwards LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams, and shooting guard Kobe Bryant. That’s the core of the USA Olympic team, but even the backup is quite spectacular. They have also called upon small forward Kevin Durant, power forward Kevin Love, center Tyson Chandler, and point guard Russell Westbrook. Small forward Andre Iguodala and shooting guard James Harden were the last two names added to the final roster, after a very successful postseason this last month.
But not all is good at the Olympic team’s training camp. The Americans have already lost two centers, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh, to injuries even before the training camp began. As if that was not enough, they are a bit concerned about the injuries suffered by Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade. Chris Paul sprained his right thumb on the first day of camp and has been sitting out scrimmages. And now it is the LA Clippers recently resigned Blake Griffin who has been diagnosed with a medial meniscus tear in his left knee. He will most likely undergo arthroscopic surgery early next week. He’s already back with the LA Clippers doctors and will soon be seen by the orthopedic specialist, including Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic. Rumor has it that he will be evaluated on Sunday and could be in surgery as early as next Monday.
“We’re relieved that this does not affect Blake’s ability to be ready in time for training camp,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said in a statement. He seemed quite calm, considering that they just signed a $95 million contract with the player. “Missing out on the Olympic experience will be tough for him to take. I know how dedicated he was to doing that. We’re glad we can get this fixed now and take advantage of the available time for him to fully recover.” USA Basketball is now saying that the injury is not knew and that this is only a aggravation of an injury that Blake suffered during the playoffs where his team was defeated by the San Antonio Spurs in the second round.