A basketball team that represented the United States on the 2000 Olympics in Syndey featured many great players in their prime years playing together for one goal. Even though it had names like Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Gary Payton, and Jason Kidd, this squad is often overlooked when discussing historically great basketball squads.
They won every single game in that tournament; however, it’s fair to admit they had some tough challenges on the way to the gold medal. The international players were getting better and better all across the world. There were players ready to join the NBA from pretty much every continent on the globe.
Yao Ming was already a big star in China, but nobody knew how his talents would match up against players from the NBA.
During an interview on Yahoo Sports, Kevin Garnett shared some insight into how they had a bounty on Yao Ming. To be more specific, it was an internal contest whether someone would be able to dunk on Yao, and don’t forget we’re talking about a 7’6″ player.
“First of all, people didn’t know; we had a bounty out on Yao Ming. The whole USA team had a bet. We had a million-dollar bet on who was going to be the first person to dunk on Yao Ming. None of us did. We all tried to dunk on Yao, but he would block it, or we would miss. So, the first thing I thought of when I saw Vince dunk over Frederic was oh sh-t, you won the million dollars. But then I realized it obviously wasn’t Yao. I pushed Vince, and if you look at the clip, he almost punches me in the face by accident. But my first thought was, oh sh-t, you won, you got the million.”Kevin Garnett, via Yahoo Sports
Both teams played against each other in the group’s stages of the Olympics, and the United States won that game 72-119. Yao had a poor game scoring only 5 points and grabbing three rebounds in 16 minutes of action. Even though he was young and inexperienced, that game was an opportunity for him to see what type of competition he will face on a nightly basis. Luckily for him, he also didn’t get dunked by any of the US players.