Perhaps you’ve heard of these guys?
THE MEN’S BASKETBALL tournament is a foregone conclusion, right? America’s Dream Team, comprising NBA giants including Lebron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Kevin Durant, will dominate to gold-medal victory. Not so fast. As basketball becomes more international, Spain, Serbia, France, and Australia are all fielding squads that pose at least a threat to America’s on-court supremacy.
Many have forgotten that 2004’s Team USA—A team that both King
James and 15-time NBA All-star Tim Duncan played on—was only able to scrape up bronze. (Gold went to Argentina!) And two years ago, at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, the Americans were ejected by France in the quarterfinals.
In Tokyo, more than 25 percent of all competitors will be NBA players, and guys like Rudy Gobert, a 7'1" center from France who plays for the Utah Jazz and is considered the best defender in the world, as well as Spain’s Gasol brothers, both of whom have played on teams that have won NBA titles, could send Team USA home early. Then, again, it’s not like the Dream Team is an underdog.
If they do go down, though, basketball fans can still root for America’s 3x3 team. Added for these Olympics, the half-court game features teams of three playing with smaller balls and a relentless 12-second shot clock. So, yeah, it’s a blast, even without superstar names.