After months of worries about the elite talent that was skipping the Summer Olympics, followed by concerns over a few close games, Team USA will leave Rio de Janeiro as the undisputed king of the basketball world.
The Americans re-established their dominance this afternoon with a 96-66 battering of Serbia in the gold medal game. It was a statement victory for the U.S. squad, which had eked out a three-point win over the Serbians earlier in the tournament when a last-second shot bounced off the rim.
Team USA won without LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis, who skipped the Games because of a combination of injuries, desire for rest and other unstated reasons. But this was no “B team” that represented the United States in Rio. All-Stars abounded on an American squad that was challenged at times, but never seemed destined to walk away with anything less than gold.
After the lopsided victory in the final game, USA Basketball director Jerry Colangelo issued a challenge to the rest of the world, relays Sam Amick of USA Today.
“I’m all for raising the bar for global basketball,” he said. “The more interest in basketball on all levels, I’m for. I’m a lifer in the game. I love the game. Basketball is the No. 2 sport in the world, [but] we just need to see these other countries get their acts together and become more competitive.
“I’d love to see that. Everyone would love to see that. I’m not going to be making excuses for anyone about our [dominance]. Someone said to me [after the game], one of the officials said to me, ‘You know next time you play, you ought to play with four.’ And I said, ‘No, maybe the other teams better get their act together and compete.’”
Those are strong words, and the Americans will need a strong team to back them up, which brings us to tonight’s question: Which 12 players will represent the United States at the 2020 Games in Tokyo? After four Olympic appearances, Carmelo Anthony is out, announcing his retirement from the international game today. James said this week that he was having regrets about not playing, so he may be back in four years at age 35. The rest of this year’s team is relatively young and all may want to return in 2020, but others who skipped this time may want a shot and some younger players may be in the mix by then.
Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.