USA hoops team had to work hard for their gold medals
MARCUS HENRY Special to the AmNews | 8/17/2012, 11 a.m.
There are many people who consider the United States' 107-100 win over Spain on Sunday as a less than stellar result. After all, the 1992 Dream Team would've won by at least 30 points.
As true as that may be, it's time to give the current version of Team USA some slack. Spain was about as good an opponent as Team USA was going to face in London. Pau Gasol is a perennial all-star caliber player, while his brother Marc has turned himself into one of the league's better centers.
There were also current NBA players Serge Ibaka and Jose Calderon. Juan Carlos Navarro was once a member of Memphis, while Rudy Fernandez played for Denver last season. Sergio Rodriguez was drafted by Portland, while Victor Claver just signed with the Trailblazers.
Get the picture?
If there is one defense of this U.S. squad, it's that they played against teams that had several NBA players. A record 39 NBA players participated in the Olympic Games, which meant getting the gold wasn't going to be a simple walk in the park.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy. We didn't want it easy," LeBron James told reporters. "A lot of teams have won gold easy. We didn't want it that way. We're a competitive team, and we love when it gets tight. That's when our will and determination kind of shows. It was the same way in '08."
Again, this team deserves a lot of credit. Aside from having to play against a record number of NBA players, the team managed to overcome its biggest flaw--a lack of size.
The Gasol brothers are a lethal combination. They combined for 41 points on 17-for-27 shooting. Despite the size differential, the United States outrebounded Spain 36-33. America got a team effort on the board, while at least four players had five or more rebounds.
It wasn't a dream and it wasn't easy, but it was a thrilling ride.