Every member of Team USA dreams of standing up with a gold medal draped around his neck as "The Star Spangled Banner" plays through the loudspeakers and quiets a cheering crowd. It was the case in 2008, and it's true once more at London in 2012.
However, does one gold medal mean more than another?
Let's say that LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant and Deron Williams add a second gold to their trophy cases.
Which one will they treasure more?
The recency effect dictates that we place more value on the current efforts than the past ones, even if that shouldn't be the case. Getting caught up in the hype right now is easy, especially since the current version of Team USA is so dominant.
However, don't let the hype sway your opinion without thinking back and remembering the circumstances of the 2008 Olympics.
Team USA entered the games at Beijing as the favorites to win gold and swept through the competition with ease until the final game with Spain. They prevailed in a tight contest and completed the goal of the Redeem Team.
That nickname in itself should go a long way towards answering the question posed in the title of this article.
In 2008, the Americans weren't just playing for themselves. They were playing to make up for the lackluster effort of 2004, a showing that resulted in just a bronze medal.
The pressure was high, and failure simply was not an option.
This year, Team USA is playing to win a gold medal, but that's about it.
A gold medal will make 12 basketball players, a handful of coaches and a ton of fans quite happy, but it won't simultaneously lift a giant weight off the shoulders of USA basketball. For that reason alone, the gold can't mean as much as it did four years ago.
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