If you know the history of the Team USA, you know that the 2004 Olympic team was one of the biggest fiascos in recent history for USA Basketball. There were a lot of factors that affected their performance in Athens and with their pedigree in international basketball, their participation in that tournament was disappointing.
Several stars opted out of the team and they didn't have more choice than to pick young players to join non-superstars veteran in Greece. The result? Team USA lost a couple of games in the tournament and finished 3rd after losing to Argentina, the eventual champion, in the semifinals. Three legends were part of that team but at the time, they were just rookies in the NBA. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony were last-minute replacements for that team that didn't meet the expectations.
Recently, Jack McCallum & J.A. Adande talked about that infamous team and how it was assembled on the “The Dream Team Tapes: Kobe, LeBron & The Redeem Team”, remembering that young guys like Anthony, James, and Wade were trusted to help this team succeed in the summer Olympics but that never happened.
“We really had no clue what we were getting into. We were just happy to be named to the Olympic team and be playing.” ...We got the call last minute and just saw ourselves as the roster fillers," Wade said.
“I think things could have been different but we didn’t have time. We came at the last minute. Me, D-Wade, and LeBron. The way that we looked at it as we’re only here for the roster fillers," Anthony noted.
Sean Ford (USA Basketball's National Team Director) also reflected on that moment, explaining that several stars decided to not participate in the competition and the organization didn't have more remedy.
“Injuries and the situation of the world a lot of guys were unable to play. Jason [Kidd] was hurt, Ray [Allen] was hurt, Jermaine [O’Neal] was hurt. It just wasn’t working the way we wanted it to. So we went a little bit younger.”
They didn't have all the veterans they wanted to have but there was one guy who stuck with them, Allen Iverson. Ford revealed he was thankful for AI and all the heat he took after the team lost, taking the responsibility for everything that happened.
“He took the hit with the media a lot when we did lose. Allen’s got a toughness about him, and because there was so much going around him with his life he was able to focus and leave somethings elsewhere. Because he does that on a regular basis he kept the team focused on what was next.”
There are a lot of stories about this team and how it paved the way for the 2008 Redeem team that featured Bron, Melo, and Wade again. That team featured more big names like Kobe Bryant and they demonstrated Team USA wasn't finished, winning the tournament and recovering their place in international basketball.
You can check out the full episode of “The Dream Team Tapes: Kobe, LeBron & The Redeem Team” from Diversion Podcasts here.