Japan (AP) — Nothing about the summer was easy for the U.S. men’s
basketball team, and neither was the gold-medal game.
expected nothing less.
And in the
end, their Olympic reign continues.
scored 29 points and joined Carmelo Anthony as the only three-time
men’s basketball gold medalists in Olympic history and the U.S.
held off France 87-82 on Saturday to win the title at the Tokyo
Games — ending a summer that started with sputters but closed with
it with two free throws with 8.8 seconds left, making the outcome
academic. The lead was five, France’s final possession was
irrelevant, and it was over. The U.S. players gathered for a hug at
midcourt, Durant, Bam Adebayo and Draymond Green wrapped themselves
in American flags, and the journey was complete.
finished with 19 points, Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday each
scored 11 for the U.S.
and Rudy Gobert each scored 16 for France, which now has four
silver medals — all coming after gold-medal-game losses to the U.S.
Guerschon Yabusele scored 13, Nando de Colo had 12 and Timothe
Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 11 for France.
Ntilikina’s 3-pointer got France within 73-70 with 5:42 left, but
the U.S. had a quick answer — a 9-2 run that restored a 10-point
lead on Tatum’s 3-pointer.
it was just a matter of finishing the job. The summer started with
two exhibition losses, the Olympics started with a loss to France,
and none of that seemed to matter much at the end.
was accomplished: Gold, again — the 16th time in 19 Olympic tries
for the U.S.
For some, it
adds to family legacies. Jrue Holiday now is an Olympic gold
medalist, just like his wife Lauren was twice with the U.S. women’s
national soccer team. JaVale McGee now has Olympic gold, just like
his mother Pamela won with the U.S. women in basketball at the 1984
Los Angeles Games.
Bucks teammates Holiday and Khris Middleton, it’s admission into a
rare club: Before now, only Scottie Pippen (who did it twice),
Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving had won an NBA title
and Olympic gold in the same year.
And for U.S.
coach Gregg Popovich, it completes an Olympic journey that started
a half-century ago. He was playing for the United States Air Force
Academy, tried unsuccessfully to make the 1972 U.S. Olympic team—
“the powers that be actually selected Doug Collins instead of me,
it’s hard to believe,” Popovich joked earlier this summer — then
accepted the task of replacing Mike Krzyzewski as the U.S. coach
for this Olympic cycle.
of the Olympics has been a dream,” Popovich said.
missed its first eight 3-point tries before Durant got one to drop
with 2:04 left in the opening quarter, starting what became a 21-8
run by the Americans on the way to a 39-26 lead midway through the
responded, closing the half on a 13-5 spurt and getting within
44-39 at the break, then within two early in the third quarter.
And after the
U.S. briefly led by 14, Nicolas Batum — who saved his team with a
last-second block to close out a win over Slovenia in the
semifinals — beat the third-quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer that
cut the U.S. lead to 71-63 entering the fourth.