With their hopes of bring home the gold dashed, in the end Team USA had to settle for a Bronze medal in Athens. We at Gothamist have chosen to view this as a glass half full type of situation. Plenty of people will decry the state of US Basketball over the next few weeks (and with good reason), so instead, lets look at the positives that came out of the 2004 games.
First and foremost, we earned the Bronze medal. Hey, it could have been worse. We could have come in fourth. Keep in mind that the US beat both of the teams that won their division in pool play. Athens was the first time in Olympic basketball history that one of the two pool winners did not medal. Spain was undefeated when they tipped off against the US in the quarterfinals and we exacted revenge on Lithuania in the Bronze medal game, beating them soundly.
Also, the US finished in 6th place in the World Championships of 2002. In essence, weve improved three spots since then. This team could have given up and packed it in after their loss to Argentina (who went on to win the Gold), instead, they played their best game of the tournament in the Bronze medal game. They deserve credit for that.
Lastly, credit the players that made the trip to Athens for wanting to represent their country in international play. Many NBA superstars stayed home for various reasons. The young men that elected to play represented our country in a very dignified way and we should all be proud of them for doing so.