The U.S men’s basketball team beat Serbia, 96-66, on Sunday to cap one of the more uninspiring runs to a gold medal in the program’s illustrious history. After winning a series of surprisingly close games, Team USA posted its biggest margin of victory in a gold-medal game since 1992, when Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and others beat Croatia by 32 points.
This year’s Team USA, however, won’t be remembered as fondly as the 1992 version.
“This is kind of the Team USA that no one will want to remember,” CBSSports.com NBA writer Matt Moore told Jay Berman, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “They won gold, they got the job done, it wasn’t a disaster – there’s no reason for big upheaval. (They were) short on the top players. LeBron James obviously out, Steph Curry obviously out, James Harden – the list goes on. But they did win gold. They got the job done, and that’s kind of just keeping the standard they set in 2008 going. They reestablished themselves. This run was not dominant. It was never really impressive. But they did just enough and they looked good in the gold-medal game, and that’s going to have to be enough for now.”
Kevin Durant led the way with a game-high 30 points against Serbia. Carmelo Anthony, meanwhile, secured his legacy. With three golds and a bronze, he is now the most decorated male in Olympic basketball history.
Is Anthony the greatest Team USA player of all time?
“Look, if you’re talking about contributions made over time, he’s obviously got to be on that list because of what he contributed,” Moore said. (He’s the) top scorer in Olympic history for Team USA. That’s quite an accomplishment. Melo really did put a stamp on his career. If there was any question about whether or not he was going to be a future Hall of Famer given the disappointment (of) his NBA career based off the expectations, the gold medals kind of secured it. He’s going to be a Hall of Famer because of what he’s done in the Olympics. Not only just being there and being on a team and winning the gold medal, but he’s been a primary weapon. Olympic Melo is something where you look and say this guy gets the most out of his talent in this environment. It’s quite a run. You do have to look back and say that he has contributed more than any other player throughout the course of the program.”
Anthony, 32, said that this was his last Olympics. Mike Krzyzewksi, 69, said the same, with Gregg Popovich poised to pick up the baton.
Moore doesn’t believe the program will change much despite the coaching change.
“I think for the most part, much of it will be kind of continuous,” he said. “The reason is because Jerry Colangelo is still in charge. They’re still going to (have) the same approach. They’ll still want to carry on some level of continuity. The offense, you hope, will kind of be a little bit more modern, will kind of have a little more kick to it. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s able to manage all of those different egos and (how the) dynamic plays out – because there is a lot of that that goes into this and that’s something that Popovic never has to worry about because of the Spurs. Having to deal with that dynamic will be something very interesting to watch as we head into FIBA play in two years and then again in Japan in 2020.”