Redd, with a golden tint. (FIBA.com)
Five thoughts after the win:
- Despite the up-and-down performance, Team USA won each quarter, if ever so narrowly. It went 38-31, 31-30, 22-21, and 27-25 for the Americans, who never could create a commanding lead against the same team they knocked around by 37 points the week prior. Spain played wonderfully in the gold medal match, but let's not suddenly delude ourselves and pretend Team USA didn't thoroughly dominate this tournament. They finished 8-0, and won every game by double-digits. Against the top contenders? A 23-point win over Greece, 20-point victory over Argentina, and two wins against Spain by an average of 24 points. Not at all bad showings against the last team to beat Team USA, the defending Olympic champs, and the defending World champs.
- Kobe's four-point play and ensuing "shhh" easily overtook Wade's falling-out-of-bounds lob to Bryant as the signature play of the tournament. The entire game was classic Bryant, who just wrote another thick chapter in his legacy, and went a long way to redeeming (redeeming!) himself following the NBA Finals disaster.
- Speaking of memorable moments, Rudy Fernandez, oh my. The dunk on Howard, the showy step-back three-pointers, everything he touched turned into shiny gold silver. Dude was on, he just couldn't stay on the court. He fouled out (on Kobe's four-pointer) in 18 minutes, but packed 22 points and a lot of highlights in his brief time on court.
- If Dwyane Wade was the perfect sixth man (and he most certainly was) then Tayshaun Prince was also the ideal tenth man, something missing from previous versions of Team USA. You just felt at ease whenever Prince was on the court throughout the tournament. And his 3-3 effort in eight minutes against Spain sure didn't hurt in the 11-point win, right? Let's just say I wouldn't mind seeing him, at 32, in London in 2012.
- Michael Redd didn't play in the final game, marking his first DNP of the Olympics. only got the final minute on the floor against Spain, his briefest appearance in the Olympics. That's fine with me, and it's cool with the birthday boy too, apparently. Happy 29th, Mike, and congrats. From the quotes:
You want to cry, you want to laugh, you want to smile. It was amazing to see our flag raised and to know that you are the best team in the world.