Many thought that the team that Jerry Coangelo & Coach K built and brought to Istanbul was a Silver medal team at best, but I begged to differ. I was never worried, not for one moment that Team USA would fail to bring home the Gold. And on the first NFL Sunday of the season, I celebrate basketball, and what our country accomplished against a good Turkey team.
Why I never faltered in my belief in our team? For one, Coach K is a great, great coach, and aside from the X’s & O’s, he manages egos well. What went on unnoticed during the selection process was the idea of building a “team.” Due to the frenzied free agency that took place this past Summer, it was safe to assume that the top names in basketball would forgo making the trip overseas to play in the FIBA Championships. So Coach K swooped up KD, and basically built a Euro style team around him, with some shooters, hustlers, and speed. Take a look at the team the US presented, and all though there were plenty of All-Stars and franchise cornerstones, they all happily took a back seat to KD and the winning cause. And quite simply put, they became a “team”. Once that was established, KD led the way, Odom held it down, and the cast played their part.
It’s similar to when the US lost in Athens (despite winning a Bronze, we chalk it up as a loss), many threw around the idea of just sending the NBA Champions to the Olympics. At the time, the team would have been the Detroit Pistons, the epitome of a team. There’s no question in my mind that the Pistons would have won Gold that year. Of course, in 2008 the Redeem Team willingly formed to take back what was rightfully ours in Beijing. This time around, we didn’t have the luxury of sending the absolute best players in the planet to Istanbul, so Jerry Coangelo and Coach K basically built the 2004 Detroit Pistons 2.0, bigger and bolder. The team was predicated on defense, and our undersized, scrappy, athletic group of kids shut teams down and suffocated them.
The result, we remain on top of the world in the sport of basketball! USA! USA! USA!