Team USA have now secured their fourth consecutive men’s basketball Olympic gold medal in a row. They beat France 87-82 to win the gold, having lost to the same outfit earlier in the tournament.
Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets scored 29 points in the final to help secure the win – with 21 of them coming in the first half alone. Durant has now been a part of three out of the last four Team USA olympic gold medal winning teams. He also has two NBA titles to his name and signed a new contract with the Brooklyn Nets on the same day of the game again France – a contract that is reportedly worth a whopping $198 million for the 32 year old.
The Hardest Fought of the Last Four medals
At the end of the day, the record books will probably show the win in Tokyo as being little more than another notch on Team USA’s olympic basketball bedpost. We can also confidently expect them to make it five gols in a row in Paris in 2024, and perhaps maybe even six beyond that on home soil, as the olympic games come to LA in 2028.
However, this was a men’s basketball olympic gold that came far less easily than most of the others in the past. Team USA had lost to France earlier in the event, and initially only had a total of eight players who travelled to Tokyo. Rather than heading to Tokyo expecting to dominate, Team USA had to grow into the tournament.
France on the other hand, while not having anywhere near the same calibour of domestic lead or general popularity of the sport, did have a team that had been evolving together for almost a decade. Sometimes, it’s not as a easy as throwing together a few NBA superstars and hoping for the best.
The USA’s Historic Dominance
The current run of four medals on the trott is pittance when compared to Team USA’s overall record in olympic men’s basketball. The sport was first introduced to thre olympics in 1936, and the US would go on to dominate it at every olympics thereafter until 1972, when they were pipped to the gold by the Soviet Union, who won their second gold 16 years later in 1988.
Other than that, only two other teams other than the US and the Soviet Union have won the gold in men’s basketball – Yugoslavia in 1980 and Argentina in 2004 – the last team to do so before Team USA went on their current run of four medals.
Is there any serious competition likely to be awaiting in Paris?
Given that the next games will be on home soil, Team France should be a force to be reckoned with once more.
However, missing a year of preparation time compared to a normal olympics may hinder the French more than it will the US. While Team USA tend to throw their teams together months or weeks before the games, other nations, including France, will be starting their preperation now.
Jokic’s native Serbia can’t be written off – especially if the Joker should decide to fly out and represent his country this time around. The likes of Spain, Australia, Greece and Agentina also can’t be discounted totally.
At the end of the day though, given the popularity of basket ball in America, and the amount of money and resources that goes into promoting the league and bringing through new talent, anything other than a gold medal for Team USA would be considered as an embarrassing failure.
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