At times, many thought that the Team USA men’s basketball team would not win gold in Tokyo, especially after losing exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia in Las Vegas and losing to France in their Olympic opener.
However, due to the greatness of Kevin Durant, Team USA was able to capture its fourth consecutive gold medal by defeating France 87-82 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, on Saturday.
Durant, who scored 29 points in the gold medal game, was the leader for Team USA and has played a significant role in each of the last three golds. He’s scored 30 points in each of the previous two gold-medal games and now is tied with Carmelo Anthony for the most gold medals in Olympic men’s basketball history.
“I hate to compare stuff because you know everything is its own moment,” Durant said postgame. “But this is one of those special journeys that it’s just hard to describe because each and every one of us put in that work every single day, from the coaches to the trainers, to the players. We all came in with that goal of, ‘Let’s finish this thing off. Let’s build a family. Let’s build this team. Let’s grow this team every day.’ And when you are part of a team that’s evolving by the second, it’s just amazing to see.”
U.S. coach Gregg Popovich has five NBA titles, and now, he has a gold medal.
“Every championship is special, and the group you’re with is special,” he said. “But I can be honest and say this is the most responsibility I’ve ever felt because you’re playing for so many people that are watching and for your country and other countries involved. The responsibility was awesome, and I felt it every day for several years now. I’m feeling pretty light now and looking forward to getting back to the hotel and having something.”
Milwaukee Bucks teammates Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, who joined the Olympic team in the early morning hours before the U.S. played France in pool play, became the fourth and fifth players to win the NBA Finals and an Olympic gold in the same year.
According to Holiday, this was a great summer.
“Getting in at one in the morning, me, Book(Devin Booker) and Khris(Middleton), and then playing that night against France, losing that game and then being able to go through the rest of the tournament and then winning the gold medal game,” Holiday said. “I don’t know — I guess me thinking about it, and me telling that story, man, that’s a hell of a summer.”
Give this team a lot of credit. They battled hard to win a gold medal. In the end, the world has caught up. However, the United States is still the top dog in men’s basketball.
Photo: (Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images)