The 2004 U.S Olympic Basketball Team will go down in history after their Bronze Medal
finish at the 2004 Summer Olympics
in Athens, Greece
On August 15th, 2004, the team was routed by Puerto Rico 92-73 to make it the first U.S Olympic team with NBA players to ever lose in Olympic play since NBA players starting playing in the games at the 1992 Olympics.
Four days later they defeated Olympic host Greece 77-71 in front of an extremely partisan crowd. Yet only two days later they lost to Lithuania 94-90. They came back with two impressive victories, an 89-53 win over Angola and a 102-94 win over Spain. Hopes of a huge comeback for a Gold Medal were on the minds of this years "Dream Team."
Yet when the eventual gold winner Argentina beat the U.S 89-81 on August 27th, 2004 it was official, the team would be the first U.S team with NBA players not to win Gold, the first U.S team since the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and only the third U.S team ever not to win the Gold.
Yet they saved their best effort for last, as they polished off Lithuania 104-96 to win the Bronze Medal.
The lineup for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team that competed 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece was as follows:
F Carmelo Anthony
F/C Carlos Boozer
C Tim Duncan
G Allen Iverson
G LeBron James
F Richard Jefferson
G Stephon Marbury
F Shawn Marion
F Lamar Odom
F/C Emeka Okafor
F Amare Stoudemire
G Dwyane Wade
The team was coached by Larry Brown, who had led the miracle Detroit Pistons to the NBA title only a couple months prior to the games.
While the USA Basketball team has a storied past, having won 12 of a possible 14 gold medals and sporting a 109-2 all-time record in Olympic competition prior to this summer, this team will go down in the history books as the most underperforming team to ever call themselves Team USA. While the team was the youngest group of NBA Olympians ever (average age was 23.6 years old) not to mention none of the players had ever played in Olympic play and many NBA superstars (Karl Malone, Tracy McGrady, Jason Kidd and Jermaine O'Neal) passed on the chance to play in the games. Yet those are all certainly no excuse. The team lacked outside shooters, team players and made tons of fundamental errors that aren't acceptable in the slightest.
The 2004 Olympic Games were just another sign that U.S.A Basketball as a whole needs improvement. People criticized the U.S team in the 2000 Olympics for keeping games too close, even though they ended up winning all their games the gold,. Yet since that Gold Medal, they placed 6th at the 2002 Men's World Championships in Indianapolis and 4th at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. And while none of the players on this year's Olympic team were on the 2003 USA Junior Team, their 5th place finish at the 2003 Junior World Championship in Thessaloniki, Greece is also another blot on the prestigious record of U.S basketball.
Hopefully, U.S.A Basketball will learn from the mistakes made at these Olympics and other international tournaments that the U.S hasn't fared well in and will be able to nab the gold at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.