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Olympic Basketball: The Resurgence of 2008 USA Basketball

The Netflix movie Redeem Team narrates the redemption of USA Men’s Basketball to regain the respect of the world. Follow for more Olympic basketball stories!

During the ongoing invasion of Iraq and the aftermath of 9/11 terror attack, the danger on security and terrorism attack hinders many notable NBA supsertars from representing USA in the 2004 Athens Olympic. The then-USA Coach Larry Brown was heard every alibis and reasons from the NBA stars including Shaquille Oneal, Jason Kidd, and many more. 

From this dilemma, the USA men’s basketball faced a crisis in terms of commitment, continuity of the program, and lack of preparation. During that time, the National team program tapped young stars in Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwayne Wade to play at Athens Olympic. The team was also composed of the likes of Allen Iverson and Tim Duncan to lead the team. Despite being loaded with NBA stars, it is without a doubt that the lack of chemistry and preparations hindered the team to easily dominate. 

The results contradicted what many fans expected. USA showed early struggles in the preliminary round, finishing just fourth place in Group B. Puerto Rico beat them by 19 points and Lithuania beat them by just four points. This output of the team in the group stage is an indication that the worst thing has yet to come. In the quarterfinals against Spain led by young Pau Gasol and Juan Carlos Navarro, USA beat them with the tight score of 102-94. Then in the semi-finals against Argentina led by Hall of Fame Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola, the team suffered a big time blow 89-81. The team settled for bronze after beating Lithuania. 

The coming of Coach K and Kobe Bryant, the start of Redeem team

Following the appointment of Jerry Colangelo to oversee the rebuilding and rebranding of Team USA. Good things started to come for the national team. The first step is hiring a new coach that could make this bunch of talented individuals play as a team. According to Colangelo, he made his decision based on the legendary North Carolina Coach Dean Smith. Smith said “there was only one coach who could get the job done, who [had] the respect of all the players. He stands alone, he’s the only one.”

The man fit for the job is Mike Krzyzewski, the Duke head coach. This is a difficult job for the legendary NCAA Coach, to steer the egos of NBA Giants like Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Carmelo Anthony. “First thing that surprised me about Coach J was that he didn’t give a f*** about my resume, but he always did it with respect,” James said. “I’ve always gotten the best out of myself playing for someone that holds everybody accountable.”

Coach K is a former Army officer and a West Point graduate, and sought inspiration from his time in the military to motivate the national team and teach the responsibility it had to repay the sacrifices so many had made to preserve the safety and sovereignty of their nation. 

“Coach K is a motivator,” Anthony said. “And that’s what he did.”

Coach K also brought Kobe Bryant to the national team to bring leadership and motivation to the team. Bryant played a key role to power the 2008 USA men’s team on their campaign in the Beijing Olympics. He influenced his teammates to do an early morning workout, long training, and intense drills which bring a more competitive and cohesive impact for the team. 

The USA successfully regained the respect of the world by beating each team they faced with a victory margin of 20 points. They had a back and forth matchup against the Spain team in the gold medal match. The USA successfully claimed the gold medal and players piled the medals on Krzyzewski’s neck. After that 2008 dominance, USA continued to win gold medals in 2012, 2016, and recently in 2021. 

“There’s no better feeling than winning a gold medal,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s your country. It’s the world. It’s the Olympics. There’s no greater moment.”

“Our goal was to win the respect of our country and win the respect of the world,” the Legendary Coach added.

The USA Men’s basketball (Redeem) team accomplished the mission.

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