The Olympic park in Stratford London had an unusual silence. The predominant American crowd came to the game to support their NBA superstars, and others were hoping to see another blowout or another “Rucker park” show, just like what happened against the hapless Nigeria team.
However, the Lithuania team came into the game with a different mindset. They refused to be bullied, and they believed there is always a blueprint in defeating the powerhouse Team USA.
Lithuania is composed of mid-level standouts like Toronto Raptors forward Linas Kleiza and former NBA player Darius Songalia. However, they out-rebounded the ball, spaced the floor and moved seamlessly as Team USA seemed to run out of possible answers.
There was no pushing the panic button, simply because there was none. Coach Mike Krzyzewski knew his team would pull it through. Beyond the worried faces in the crowd, and the look of “what just had happened” on the players, one man stood tall, with his face very determined.
This is his moment, and Lebron James wanted to prove to everybody that he could shine on the world's biggest stage. Four years ago in the gold medal game, Kobe Bryant carried Team USA to victory. Somehow, Lebron was just content to contribute and let Kobe and Dwayne Wade dominate the game.
Fresh from an NBA championship, Lebron had just found his renewed self.
The failure to deliver a championship last year against the Dallas Mavericks has become his obsession. If the team needs a win, he needs to score more, never doubt and push forward. It is this equation which allowed him to deliver Miami another championship.
And now, with four minutes left in the ball game against the stubborn and sturdy Lithuania team, Lebron immediately went to work. He scored nine of his twenty points during that stretch.
As the world watches, the best player on the planet strives for this challenge. These crucial minutes have brought out the best in him. Kobe would have to step back because this is Lebron’s time for winning Team USA another gold medal.
Lithuania came close to defeating the Americans, 99-94, and it was a gallant stand.
Almost… but not quite. Team USA would never buckle down, Lebron James won’t let it.