The United States Olympics has added another honor to their books by defeating France to win the gold medal in the Men’s Basketball competition at the 2020/21 Tokyo Olympics this week.
UNITED STATES MAKE HISTORY
Certainly, there have been more dominant and talented squads that have represented the United States at the major sporting carnival, but no national team had ever won the country as much glory as this squad has.
After securing an 87-82 victory over France on Saturday, the United States Men’s Basketball team secured a fourth consecutive gold in Basketball in the Summer Olympics, winning their 16th title.
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THE LEGEND MAKES ANOTHER GOLD
There will be long-lasting memories of the games for the team and the coaches, including the entire nation of the United States.
Kevin Durant, the player who added a glorious chapter to his career by scoring 29 points to seal the victory for his country, also bagged his third straight Olympic gold.
Apart from the Olympics, Durant has already won the NBA two times in 2017 and 2018 and has agreed to a new $198 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets on the same day he won the gold for his country.
“This is one of those special journeys,” said Durant. “When you’re a part of a team that’s evolving by the second, it’s amazing to see. Each game we continued to grow. I’m grateful we all committed to it, we stuck with it, and we finished it off.”
EARLY CONTROL IN THE GAME
Durant scored 21 of his 29 points in the first half, giving his team some breathing space from the French raid that was coming in waves. Facing a size disadvantage, the United States men were left to defend against 7ft tall Frenchmen that had 7ft 2in Rudy Gobert as the spearhead of the attack.
The United States was forced to play foul a number of times in desperate attempts to save points being scored, but fortunately, Gobert only converted 6 of the 13 free shots awarded. He finished the game with 16 points.
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KEVIN DURANT IS THE MVP
“KD is not special because he’s so talented. The way he works on his game is more impressive,” said the United States team coach Gregg Popovich. “The relationship he builds with teammates, the respect he garners, the joy he has in playing, it’s like osmosis. It goes into all the players.”
Being a humble player, Durant shrugged off the heaps of praises that his coach and teammates were pouring on him and said that the massive victory was a team effort.
PRAISES LAID ON DURANT
“Kevin Durant is exactly who we thought he was,” said teammate Draymond Green, who was in the team with Durant when they won NBA with Golden State as well as the 2016 Olympic gold for the USA. “He’s one of the greatest players to ever play this game. One of the most special guys you’ve ever seen lace their shoes up and take a basketball court.”
Discussing the hero of the game, Durant, and his role for the team, the USA Basketball executive director Jerry Colangelo, who is retiring from the post after 16 years, was in tears.
“He is a very special guy. He loves the game. He loves USA basketball. He’s got that kind of character.” said Colangelo.
THE UNITED STATES HELD THEIR GROUND
With a tired Durant substituted in the second half of the game, Jayson Tatum, his replacement, played his role as a ‘scorer off the bench’ with grace.
Facing darkhorse France, who came back in the fourth quarter to beat the United States in both the 2019 FIBA World Cup and in the pool play last month, Tatum, including the entire team, held their nerves and held off the French for the title.
HOLIDAY AND MIDDLETON MAKE HISTORY
Milwaukee Bucks players Jrue Holiday and his teammate Khris Middleton became just the fifth and sixth players to win the NBA and Olympic gold medalists in the same year, adding more glory to the United States. The other players before them to achieve this feat are Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, and Scottie Pippen.
“I guess me thinking about it and me telling the story, that’s a hell of a summer,” an overjoyed Holiday said.
THE COACH PROVES HE’S STILL GOT IT
The victory was, more importantly, a moment to savor for head coach Papovich. Having faced a stressful summer with late roster changes and last-minute decisions to be made because of the COVID 19 pandemic, the legendary coach, known as “Pop” around the basketball world, was able to prove that he had nerves of steel in the stage that mattered the most.
Dealing with heavy pressure during the roster preparation to keep the gold-medal-winning streak together, Pop was left scrambling to piece strategies together to prove his worth yet again.
“Every championship is special, every group you’re with is special, but I can be honest and say this is the most responsibility I’ve ever felt,” said Pop. “The responsibility is awesome, and I felt it every day for several years. I’m feeling pretty wiped out.”