For the first time in over a decade, the chatter around the United States Men’s Basketball team was not about who would come closest to beating them for the gold, but whether they could win the gold at all. At no point was this chatter louder than after Team USA’s loss to France in their first game of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Basketball Tournament. Fate would have it that the two would dance again, giving Team USA the chance to avenge their loss in the group stages, but this time it would be for the gold medal.
“We went through some adversity, we had some unusual circumstances with COVID and guys coming in late, France is a good team, they don’t quit, but we wanted them again, we wanted to play them again.”Kevin Durant, postgame interview
Kevin Durant led Team USA with 29 points and was a game-high +29 for the Red, White, and Blue while doing just enough to prevent Rudy Gobert from exploiting mismatches in the paint. Durant surpassed Carmelo Anthony as the country’s all-time leading scorer in these Olympic Games, and in the gold medal game, KD proved why he is the greatest Team USA player of all time. Durant is now the NBA player with the most Olympic gold medals, as their win against France helped secure KD’s third gold in the summer basketball games.
Kevin Durant:— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) August 7, 2021
—3 Olympic golds
—30/30/29 in gold medal games
—led USA in scoring in all 3 tournaments
—leading scorer in Team USA men's Olympic history
—50.3% 3-point shooter in Olympics (!!!)
—(also MVP of a FIBA World Cup!)
The best Team USA men's player ever, right?
A margin of five points only decided the game, but France looked like it never really settled into the game. Their backcourt was flustered by the swarming defense of the United States, backup guards Thomas Huertel and Frank Ntilikina committed many unforced errors, which allowed the Americans to maintain their control of the game when things got tight. Guerschon Yabusele and Rudy Gobert were the lone bright spots for Les Bleus, keeping the French in the game for much of the second half. Evan Fournier was 5/15 from the field, which led to the scoring for the French, but his lack of efficiency deeply cost his team.
The Team USA win concludes arguably the most exciting Olympic basketball tournament the world has witnessed since 2004. The Americans were the favorites with their roster of NBA superstars. Still, countries such as Slovenia, Australia, and Spain proved legitimate contenders for the gold medal in Tokyo 2020. With the number of epic close games we had in this tournament, even those involving Team USA, the world is certainly catching up to the Americans.