The US Men’s Basketball team won gold tonight. They beat an upstart team from Spain. I just finished watching the game and don’t recall the final score. What I do recall is not how we won, but how we competed. The US Men’s Basketball team was nicknamed “The Redeem Team”, with the notion that this team was to reclaim the gold for the once storied and dominant US basketball program. They were to restore the pride lost in the 1972 games, the 2004 Olympics, the World Championships. They were to right all the wrongs made in American basketball since the original Dream Team of 1992, called the best team ever to step foot on a basketball court. What they did was so much more.
This team brought back respectability, sportsmanship, and dignity back to American athletes. Each man put aside their personal interests in favor of the goals and accomplishments of the team. No players stood out more in that endeavor than Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. The loudest cheers from the NBA crazed Chinese audience was for the two best players on the planet and rightfully so.
The Olympic Games are the embodiment of good sportsmanship and fair play. It’s an opportunity to put the harshness of political differences aside for a brief moment, a time to rally around patriotism and love of country. The U.S. basketball team taught us all that and more. They taught us to love and appreciate basketball at it’s patriotic best once again.