The United States Olympic basketball squad is possibly one of the most decorated teams in all of sports, and after one week of preliminary matches they already look prepared to cut down the nets once again.
This year’s U.S. team consists of two NBA finals MVPs, two former NCAA champions and ex-Longhorn and 2007 Naismith award-winner Kevin Durant. It is believed by many that this assortment of talent rivals what is known as the original Dream Team, the gold medal-winning 1992 USA basketball team. This team has kept the status quo expected of any other American basketball team: beating each of its opponents without difficulty.
As the Americans began the preliminary rounds of Olympic competition, they made quick work in their first three games and won by an average margin of victory of 52.33 points, which began with a 98-71 win over France.
“We know everybody else expects us to win by 40 points,” forward Carmelo Anthony said in a statement after the team’s first win. “For us, a win’s a win. We expect every game to be like this one.”
After making quick work of Tunisia shortly thereafter in a 110-63 effort, the new dream team made history. In their third preliminary match they established the highest scoring mark by any basketball team in Olympic history with their 83-point victory over Nigeria, 156-73. Carmelo Anthony recorded a Team USA single-game record of 37 points, including an unprecedented 10-of-12 shooting performance from beyond the arc. His 10 three-pointers were the most 3-pointers made or attempted in a single Olympic game by one player.
“Our guys just couldn’t miss tonight, and they shared the ball,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We had 41 assists. When you hit 29 threes, it’s very difficult to lose in a game like that.”
Then came the Americans’ first real test, Lithuania. The Lithuanians, 1-2 in prelims, took the U.S. to the final minutes and even held a slight two-point lead with a little under six minutes to go. Then LeBron James’ clutch gene kicked in as he scored nine of his last 20 points in the final four minutes to help outlast Lithuania 99-94 to remain undefeated in the Olympic Games.
“I feel like it was my time to step up offensively,” James said. “I am here to do the little things, whatever the team needs in Coach K’s perspective, and I was able to make a few buckets down the stretch.”
Through the first week of Olympic basketball play the United States and Russia are the only teams that remain undefeated with identical 4-0 records.
“We still have a lot of work to do, but that’s the beauty of it all,” Texas alum Kevin Durant said. “We’re all coming together in such a short time. We’re having fun playing. Guys don’t worry about points, rebounds, assists; we just want to play to win.”