The latest version of the Men’s Olympic team has gotten themselves off to a solid start and been undefeated through pool play thus far. Since 1992, when USA basketball began sending pros to represent their country, the expectation has been that teams would go 8-0 every four years, and do it convincingly.
In 1992, the Dream Team boasted some of the NBA’s all-time greats all assembled on one team in the established part of their careers. Due to the limited talent abroad that could keep up with possibly the best team ever assembled, there was no way any team could really challenge USA in any game. The margin of defeat was ridiculous (43.8 points).
With each year, while the novelty of forming “dream teams” to send to Olympics faded and other countries slowly but surely got better, the USA basketball team finally ran into trouble in 2004 after struggling just two years prior in the World Basketball Championships.
At this point, it was almost impossible to get the league’s best players to commit to playing in the Olympics due to the time commitment and lack of enticing rewards. USA had gotten to the point where they felt they could send any of our top players to play with no thought being put into roles or chemistry, and it caught up with them miserably in Athens. This team went 5-3 and ended up with a bronze medal, which seemed unheard of when the concept of USA dream teams was created in 1991.
After the current regime was put into place led by Coach Krzyzewski and Jerry Colangelo, the pride and purpose in American international basketball was restored. Commitments were required by players to establish chemistry, teams were picked based on roles and needs as opposed to creating all-star teams to roll out in international play and there was a chip on the shoulders of those that played.
Now, star players felt the need to represent their country with pride, and many of the players that are now the face of USA basketball had experienced the loss and embarrassment of the 2004 Olympics.
In 2006, a reminder was sent to Team USA that the world had caught up when the Greece upset them, giving them their only loss since the 2004 Olympics. The USA had to settle for bronze again. This really settled in and disturbed the program from top to bottom and has propelled them to where they are today.
Today, the USA men’s basketball team is filled with pride for their country and a responsibility to restore dominance internationally. There is a commitment to playing as a team and executing a specific strategy that will give them the best opportunity to win.
As a result, there are 10 reasons why I believe that team USA will go undefeated for a third consecutive major basketball tournament.