Sunday, August 12, 2012

Golden Again

When Juan Carlos Navarro caught fire early, it was evident that this Gold Medal Game would be hotly contested throughout. The U.S. shot well from three point land, but so did Navarro. Yet, the U.S. took a 35-25 lead late in the first quarter. But Spain refused to go away.

A foul fest took place in the second quarter. The game stalled and it allowed Spain to get back into things and stay there. Navarro had 19 points in the first half. But Marc Gasol was inexplicably left out on the floor with three fouls. He picked up his fourth midway through the second. The officiating in that quarter was questionable. Andre Iguodala grabbed Rudy Fernandez and Fernandez shamelessly reacted as if someone had ripped his skeleton from his skin. It drew an unsportsmanlike foul. The U.S. led by one mere point at the half. Tellingly, Spain had scored 58 points in the half.

In the third quarter, Pau Gasol took over the game. He ended with 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. Serge Ibaka also played well as Marc Gasol watched on the bench. Ibaka ended with 12 points and 9 rebounds in 21 minutes. The U.S. led by a point after three.

Chris Paul sparked Team USA at the start of the fourth quarter. His scores were timely and passes on point. The U.S. finally managed to string together some Spanish turnovers. The lead extended to six points early and Spain never really threatened again. LeBron picked up his fourth foul. Spain, who had been switching from zone to man, played a box and one to try and stop Durant. It didn't work. Durant ended with 30 points. LeBron came back in and did everything necessary to win. He had 19 points. Kobe Bryant had 17. Kevin Love played well down low. The U.S. won its second straight Olympic gold medal by the score of 107-100.

For me this win brought out some emotion. Olympic basketball is wonderful because it affords me the opportunity to fully appreciate and root for the players on the American team. Without it, I wouldn't ever have the chance to root for LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, or Kevin Durant because they don't play for my NBA club. But because we share the same nationality, I can. The U.S. men's basketball team also represents what America could be. Sure, they're overpaid professional athletes and expected to dominate every international game. But they put the hard work in to achieve that dominance. They are a collection of egos who are able to come together to work towards a higher goal. And they all do it with a palpable sense of humility.

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