The United States Dream Team of NBA stars captured their second successive Olympic men’s basketball gold medal and the 14th overall for America by beating Spain 107-100 yesterday.
Running unbeaten through the tournament as they did in 2008 when they also beat Spain in the final, the US multi-millionaire lineup of NBA elite claimed their fifth crown in the past six Olympics.
“I’m on cloud nine. It’s such a huge honour,” US star Kobe Bryant said after his final Olympic bow.
“It’s hard work and perseverance. I feel very fortunate to go to the Olympics twice and give it a go. I feel very lucky. It was nice.”
The Americans improved to 62-1 since revamping the national team program after settling for Olympic bronze in 2004.
“It’s a relief because if we don’t come back winners, it’s a disaster,” US assistant coach Mike D’Antoni said. But reigning European champion Spain, routed by the US NBA stars in a pre-Olympic exhibition game last month in Barcelona, stayed with the defending champions to the very end, keeping within reach until the final minutes.
“We didn’t want it to be easy,” US star LeBron James said. “When it gets tight, our will and determination shines.”
Kevin Durant led the US stars with 30 points while James had 19 and Bryant added 17.
Pau Gasol, Bryant’s NBA Los Angeles Lakers’ teammate, led Spain with 24 points while Juan-Carlos Navarro added 21 and Rudy Fernandez contributed 14. Spain’s only Olympic medals in the event have come with losses in the final to US teams in 1984, 2008 and in London.
“We fought but it’s a disappointing loss because we couldn’t reach the goal, because we had our chances,” said Spain’s Gasol.