In 1992, the Dream Team—stocked with Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan, among other NBA super-duper-stars—stormed through the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, beating opponents by an average of 43.8 points per game. The gold medal wasn't just guaranteed for the Americans, it was a birthright.
Twenty years later, after being humbled by a sixth-place finish in the 2002 World Championships, a bronze in the 2004 Athens Olympics, and a third-place finish in the 2006 World Championships, we've seen enough to know that the U.S. will need to scrape and claw their way to a gold medal this time around.
After all, as SI's Chris Mannix wrote, "there isn't a soul affiliated with that [2008 Olympic] group that would describe that process as anything other than grueling."
And that team had Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony in its starting lineup. That team had Dwyane Wade as a sixth man.
This team has Lamar Odom as its starting center. 'Nuff said.
So, if Team USA doesn't claim the gold, who might? Check out these five other favorites for the medal podium this week.