Relief. That was the first emotion that I felt after the USA Men’s Basketball won gold this past Sunday. And if I felt relief, just imagine how much weight was lifted off the players’ shoulders at that moment. Unlike in other Olympic sports, Americans don’t really cheer for the basketball teams because we are expected to win. In other sports there are favorites, but none like the United States basketball teams. It isn’t just a disappointment if we lose, it is an embarrassment to our country.
We expect them to win every game, and win big. The players try to smile and have a good time, but they know the pressure that they are under. Silver medalists are often disappointed because they are so close to winning gold, but silver for our basketball teams means that they are complete and utter failures. When the men’s team was celebrating after the game they had the chance to dance and smile, but this display of celebration was mostly out of relief for not letting down their country.
Now that the tournament is over, let’s evaluate how the members of the team performed in the important games in the Olympics. And in reality this just means the Gold Medal Game. They needed to play the other games to get there of course, but no game really mattered except the final one.
LeBron James: B+. He played well considering he was covering big men the entire game, but they were covering him too. When Marc Gasol had 4 fouls he was covering James, and he should have drove on him to force him out of the game. Instead he settled for outside shots and Marc stayed in the game.LeBron’s three at the end of the game was clutch, but he also missed some time in the fourth quarter due to foul trouble.
Kevin Durant: A. Durant is becoming unstoppable. He set the record for most points scored at the Olympics for a US player, and this was his first Olympics. His length, versatility, and shooting ability is unlike anyone that I have ever seen, and we should have the opportunity to see him in a few more Olympics. He made the three pointers when they counted, and came up with some key plays on defense throughout the game also.
Kobe Bryant: B. Olympic Kobe, just like NBA Kobe, has never learned to play with his teammates. He just wants to iso every time down the court, and that hurts the momentum of the team. He did an awful job covering Juan Carlos Navarro, and Coach K was forced to put Chris Paul on Navarro in the second quarter. Kobe covered Navarro in the second half though, and held him to only 2 points.
Tyson Chandler: C+. Chandler was limited to only 9 minutes in the game due to his lack of offense. Nobody is questioning his defense, but Kevin Love was much more effective in this tournament. Chandler also received a technical foul, even though he didn’t deserve it.
Chris Paul: A+. Except for one pass in which he completely missed LeBron, Paul played great basketball. His defense was phenomenal, and he came up big in the fourth quarter with 5 straight points late in the game. His best play of the day was late in the game and it was still a close game, he wasted the entire shot clock and was able to get a layup as the clock expired. He is the smartest basketball player in the NBA, and now the world.
Deron Williams: A-. Williams made his only two three point attempts of the game, but he only played 10 minutes in the game. He received 3 foul pretty quickly, but he played great when he was on the court. He attacked the defense, and made a great assist to Kevin Love for a dunk. He should’ve played more minutes despite his foul trouble.
Kevin Love: A+. Where would this team have been without Love? He was all over the offensive boards throughout the game. If he wasn’t able to bring it down, he was always trying to tap it out to his teammates. He created so many more possessions, and he was a much needed big man on defense. He was a main reason why Marc Gasol was in foul trouble early.
Carmelo Anthony: C. It was painful watching Anthony play in this game. He doesn’t think before he does anything. If he has any space to shoot, he will, and if he isn’t making his shots, then he shouldn’t be on the court. He is not a great defender, and he had to cover Spain’s big men. He can get very streaky, and we saw that throughout the Olympics, but he did not shine when it mattered the most.
Russell Westbrook: C. It was Russell being Russell. He was out of control, and he finished the game with 3 points and 2 turnovers. He did twist his ankle in the semifinal game against Argentina, but that is no excuse for some of plays that he made.
Andre Iguodala: D. I know he only played two minutes, but look at the damage he did in that time. He had 1 turnover and two fouls, including a “unsportsmanlike” foul that gave Spain two free throws, and the ball right before halftime. The foul was called because the Spain player looked more like a soccer player, and he flopped pretty convincingly. Let’s just take a minute to wish the Denver Nuggets fans good luck in dealing with Iggy for the next couple seasons.
James Harden: F. This is kind of harsh, but James Harden needs to make his free throws. He shouldn’t have been placed in that situation, but just make the shots and the game can be over. He made it more interesting than it had to be.
Anthony Davis: A++. He only played one minute, but this grade is based on the experience that he gained from the Olympics. Look at the year that this kid has had:
- College Player of the Year
- College National Championship
- #1 Pick in NBA Draft
- Gold Medal at the Olympics
Coach K: F-. Talk about painful to watch. I think that I could’ve coached this team better than he did. Heck, you could’ve too. Here’s a question, if Carmelo Anthony is barely walking late in the fourth quarter what do you do?
A. Call a timeout to let Carmelo stretch it out
B. Let the game keep playing and basically play 4 on 5
C. Call a timeout and bring a solid player from your bench like Tyson Chandler or Deron Williams
D. CALL A TIMEOUT AND SUBSTITUTE THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD INTO THE GAME FOR CARMELO
The correct answer is D. LeBron James was on the bench at the time this incident occurred, but Coach K chose to not do anything. I’m glad that was his final game coaching Team USA.