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How An Argentina Win 14 Years Ago Today Completely Changed Team USA Basketball

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14 years ago today, the US would be denied the chance to win a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics. I mentioned it in the Manu retirement blog, but it’s sort of fitting that he retired 14 years ago from this game. That’s because this happened:

Now, while that really helped the likes of a guy like Manu Ginobili and international basketball as a whole, it did more for Team USA. I’ve talked about it before and I’m an absolute sucker for international basketball. I think it’s awesome. Yes, the US should dominate every single year, but watching them vs Spain back in 2008 was one of my favorite basketball games at any level.

That’s because of 2004.

The 2004 team showed the USOC exactly how not to build a team. That bronze medal team featured big name guys, Stephon Marbury, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan and young LeBron James, Carmelo and D-Wade. The problem here is the obvious, the US just put together guys with big names and didn’t have any sort of team feel. They didn’t have a shooter, they didn’t have a passing guard, they had two guards starting that just wanted to drive and play in the midrange. Of course this was coached by Larry Brown, who refused to play the younger guys as well and tried to run the offense through Marbury and Iverson.

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After the embarrassment of getting our asses kicked by Puerto Rico and going 5-3 in Athens, US Basketball hired Jerry Colangelo as director in 2005. He immediately demanded a three-year commitment from players, building a team, like you know, a team. They would get used to playing with each other and have a coach that would be around for more than one cycle.

After that the second thing Colangelo did was rectify the mistake the 2004 team made, by not having a surplus of small forwards that weren’t great shooters. He brought in the likes of Michael Redd, who didn’t play much but was there in case a shooter was needed. He brought back Kobe and Jason Kidd to be the leaders of the team.

The other thing Colangelo did that doesn’t get enough respect is building up the player pool. It gives USA Basketball the ability to pick and choose, while still having them compete. It plays into his whole 3-year commitment, with different guys going to the FIBA World Cup compared to the Olympics.

So while a lot of people will mock the 2004 team – and rightfully so – it ended up being the perfect mistake for USA Basketball.