For Jason Kidd, Team USA’s oldest player, and LeBron James and Chris Paul, two of its youngest, Sunday’s victory was the culmination of years of work toward redemption for the U.S. and the NBA. “That’ll probably go down as one of the greatest Olympic games ever,” LeBron James said after Team USA’s thrilling 118-107 victory over Spain earned it the gold medal Sunday. The moment he received his medal, James reached down, grabbed it and stared at it. He held it inches from his eyes and just gazed at it, transfixed. And when they handed him a bouquet of red roses, he held them to his nose and inhaled two huge breaths, the sweet smell of victory filling his nostrils and lungs. It was an overwhelming sight to behold, the possession of those gold medals made so much more fulfilling because of what had transpired on the court for 40 immensely entertaining minutes. The members of Team USA didn’t just win their gold medals, they earned them against the first opponent that finally gave them a game. They didn’t dominate in the final game; they performed. They didn’t nearly blow it; they closed it out. And when all the members of Team USA sat together after taking over that podium, their faces showed pure, unadulterated pride and gratification — a gratification that wouldn’t have been nearly as strong if they hadn’t had to face such a tough final test and pass it with flying colors. “What you saw today was a team bonding together, facing adversity and coming out with a huge win,” Bryant said. Said James: “If it wasn’t for the determination and willpower we had, we wouldn’t be back on top of the world, which is where we are.” Anthony, who along with Wade, James and Carlos Boozer were the only returnees from the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, summed it up: “We were at America’s lowest point in ’04, and to have put USA Basketball back at the top of the world, it couldn’t feel better.” The 2008 team was a Redeem Team in every sense, and the sights and sounds of that redemption — both during the game and after it — will last each of them a lifetime. Info via ESPN.
|Source: nba.com, yahoo.com, getty | From USA Basketball|
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