It was bound to happen one way or another, and probably sooner rather than later, and this team felt like the one it would happen to, but Team USA got beat very early this morning by France, and they will not medal in the 2019 FIBA games.
This is the first time in a very long time that USA will not win gold, let alone any medal. I believe I heard that this was their first loss in 58 games. Even when they didn't have that good of a team, well, good but not cohesive, they got bronze. This team though, they won't even come home with that. They will get zero medals of any kind.
This is sad, but not all that surprising. I did think, even though every great American player decided to skip the FIBA games this year, that Team USA had more than enough talent to win out. I mean, Kemba Walker is an All Star. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have the potential to be stars in the league. Myles Turner is one of the better bigs in the modern NBA. Harrison Barnes has played in these games before. He has the experience. Joe Harris can shoot threes. Marcus Smart is one of the best defenders in the NBA. Derrick White had a great playoffs last year, and looks like he can become a viable starter in the league. I mean, the team was filled with NBA players, and they have some talent. But, when they had to go to overtime to beat Turkey, and Australia beat them in a scrimmage and they didn't really hammer teams like other USA squads did, this loss felt almost inevitable.
I thought, if anyone was going to beat them it was going to be Serbia. But, they blew their semifinal game a day earlier. Don't get me wrong, France has some good guys, guys that have legitimate NBA talent, but Team USA should have won. Yes, France has Nic Batum, Frank Nkilitina and Rudy Gobert, but not much else. I thought this game would have been close for a half, then the talent USA has would win out, but it didn't. They got beat, and they got beat pretty soundly. It didn't help that Kemba missed 2 big time free throws, and players were late on switches and France knows each other so much better. But still, USA should have won, and they should have won gold.
Again, I know that this was like the G squad. If this team had just one of LeBron, AD, KD, Kyrie, Damien Lillard, CJ McCollum, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, DeAaron Fox, I could go on and on and on, they would have coasted. But they didn't, and they were scrambling just to keep guys on the final roster that they settled with. This was a poorly constructed team, but a lot of that is due to players dropping out. But you know what, I don't blame the super stars for pulling out. We are talking about FIBA. This isn't the Olympics, and when the 2020 games come around, I would be shocked if Team USA is in a similar bind trying to get guys to stay. LeBron will most likely play, I'd imagine, if healthy, KD would come aboard. I'm sure Kyrie will want to play. Same with James Harden. Team USA in the 2020 Olympics will look so much different, and better. But, this if definitely an upset, and should shock a lot of casual basketball fans.
Bottom line, with the caliber player they had, USA should have won, and should have won easily. But they didn't, and they won't win anything of note at the FIBA games. What a bummer.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the greatest basketball writer on the internet.
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