Never doubt Team USA basketball – they get it done every time

Photo Credit: Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Images

Atlanta 1996 – Gold.

Sydney 2000 – Gold.

Athens 2004 – Gold.

Beijing 2008 – Gold.

London 2012 – Gold.

Rio de Janeiro 2016 – Gold.

The recently completed Olympics in Tokyo? The venue may change but the script had a similar ending.

With the USA Basketball women’s national team defeating France by a final score of 90-75 in the Gold medal, our national team once again put to rest any doubts about which team remained the team to beat in international play.

Not to mention – its consecutive games won streak remained intact.

Say what one wants about how a select few of the players were selected – and as we know, there is plenty to say, but we will save that for another time. The point is when a team has the talent and the coaching that USA Basketball presents at every international tournament it competes in, one always has to consider them favorites for gold medals.

Did Team USA have a hiccup in the All-Star Game vs. Team WNBA? Yes, they did. But that was more of an exhibition. Did Team USA have a hiccup in the game they played against Nigeria? That they did. But when it was time to play for real, Team USA showed up for real as they did at the previous six Olympics they have played in.

A lot of the worry regarding both the women’s (and men’s) team was that we were not thrashing teams by the extraordinary margins that we have seen at previous Olympics and FIBA World Championships. Here is the obvious problem with only looking at things from a standpoint of player margins.

There are no style points for margin of victory. The Olympics and the FIBAs are not like the old Bowl Championship Series system where a higher ranking may be awarded to a team that blew out an inferior opponent by 50 or 60 points.

Looking at you Alabama. Looking at you, Pete Carroll-era USC.

All that matters is that Team USA wins the games – and the Stars and Stripes have done plenty of winning lately at the Olympics and FIBA Worlds.

Is the rest of the world beginning to catch up to the United States? Yes it is. The fact that Team USA’s victories were not as dominant as previous years is a wake-up call for USA Basketball that the Nigerias, Frances and Australias of the world are not intimidated by the “USA” on the jerseys of the American players.

The good thing for Team USA is that it is in good hands. Yes, this is probably the final Olympics for the two UConn GOATs in Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird. But Taurasi and Bird will be departing from the five-ring circus as the only basketball players in history to win five gold medals.

The future remains bright for USA Basketball. Look at who made the All-Star Five from Team USA. Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson. And while it can be argued that Wilson’s performance (in her first-ever Olympics, by the way) was better than Stewie’s, both of them will surely be part of the nucleus of Team USA’s efforts to make it a great eight in Paris in three years.

One could ask many of the players and coaches for Team USA and they would probably say they would prefer for it to be more difficult because it only ups the ante on the American side and brings out the best of their games.

Sometimes, you win pretty as Team USA has done at plenty of the previous Olympics. Sometimes, you have to be deep in the trenches in order to get the job done. Last time we checked, gold that has a few scratches on it is still gold.

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