It’s been a common thing to see people talking about past squads of Team USA, with some reflecting on some of the hardest losses they suffered and why things didn’t work out between the members of the team.
When we talk about it, it’s mandatory to mention the 2004 Olympic team who was believed to continue their dominance in international basketball, but suffered painful losses against Puerto Rico and then Argentina in the semi-finals, a loss that Gregg Popovich called the most painful in his career.
Several factors brought Team USA to have a check reality during that year, including what LeBron James called ‘lack of discipline’.
LeBron James, 2004 Team USA forward: We didn’t have the discipline, we didn’t have the structure to be able to play on a world stage. We had great basketball players but we didn’t have the structure, and I think that’s part of why we finished third.
That team, led by head coach Larry Brown and lead assistant Gregg Popovich, had a solid squad, though, with Tim Duncan serving as captain. Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury were also on the roster, but due to the number of players that withdrew, they were forced to call up three guys who were coming off their rookie seasons: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony.
James, Wade, and Anthony didn’t get much playing time, something that Iverson lamented to ESPN:
Iverson: LeBron James might’ve played five minutes a game, Carmelo might’ve played five minutes a game. It’s just a whole bunch of things. I mean, it just wasn’t meant to be. It’s simple as that. The talent was there — it just didn’t happen.
After that loss, Bron and company joined the Redeem Team that won everything four years later. Team USA also won gold in 2012 and 2016.