When you are six, nearly everything looks majestic. I can still remember how much ass the Ninja Turtles kicked when I was six. But growing up a basketball fan, I had the privilege to see what I thought would be the most incredible basketball of my life.
The original Dream Team went to Barcelona and put on a seminar of dominating basketball. The players were all hall-of-famers, the margins of victory were insane and the opponents were mostly no names, honored just to be on the court with global icons like Jordan, Magic and Barkley.
In the following 15 years, the world caught up. Speed and shooting began to antagonize the modern American style of sheer athleticism on the court. American players and coaches got big-headed, and finally in 2004, the world was officially no longer second fiddle to the USA in basketball.
Jerry Colangelo took control of the USA basketball program and decided that he wanted to create a real team. A team that he described would stay together for many world competitions to come. A few key veterans bought into the concept but more importantly, Colangelo’s message was caught by the same kids who watched that first dream team and felt the way I did.
In hiring Coach K and pushing the idea that this team would play a revolutionary style of ball, Colangelo got the seven best young players in the NBA, all in one swoop. And this team, anchored by the hunger of their youth, has been dominating teams that now have NBA elite of their own.
In margins of victory that average barely less than that of the Dream Team, the 2008 squad has been defeating much more credible competition. They play incredible swarming defense, using many press and trap schemes and on the offensive side of the ball, it has seemingly been a different player in the spotlight each game.
Do not call this team the Redeem Team. Only four of these players were even on the 2004 Olympic squad and Larry Brown didn’t even play them. Do not call this team the Dream Team. They are not facing opposition that is just simply happy to be there like they were in 1992. Call them the Nightmare team; the team that you can’t beat, even on your best day. The team that out hustled, scored, and genuinely outplayed everyone; the team that will blow by Spain on Saturday night.
Before every game these Olympics, big television sports outlets have tried to give you reason after reason as to why team USA would lose. But in true nightmare fashion, this team did not shake, not even when games were close. They got the best of you, every time. A toast to the Nightmare team; Team USA.
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