The victory of the Blues on the United States in the quarter-finals of the World Cup will remain in the history of basketball, a story that can be read in terms of the gradual decline, see-saw, the gap between the giant American and the rest of the world. Summary of this series in six key dates.
1972: THE END OF AN ERA IN MUNICH
Until then, the Americans had won all Olympic gold medals by sending their university players, including future NBA stars like Bill Russell (1956) or Jerry West (1960). But in Munich, the unthinkable happens: the United States lose in the final (51-50) against the USSR. During the cold war, this match is marked by a huge controversy: a few seconds would have been added to the clock at the end of the game to allow the Soviets to enter the last basket.
1992: THE DREAM TEAM IN BARCELONA
The stars of the NBA are finally admitted to the Games. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and others delight in the Barcelona Games. The opponents are crushed, but dazzled. The gap between the United States and the others seems immeasurable.
2000: THE LITHUANIANS OPEN THE WAY
In 1996, the Americans sent a new Dream Team to the Atlanta Games, with Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon and a few 92 (Charles Barkley) alumni, who once again swept everything in its path. But four years later in Sydney, Sarunas's Jasikevicius of Lithuania swayed Vince Carter and Kevin Garnett's Team USA and only lost in the last minute in the semi-finals (85-83). In the final also, France looks good by returning to four points in the last quarter and losing only ten (85-75).
2002: ARGENTINA NEVER
At the World Cup in Indianapolis, Argentina's Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola are the first to beat a 100% NBA team, led by Reggie Miller and Paul Pierce. The event that shakes the world of basketball takes place in the pool. But Argentina will not go to the end, beaten in the final by one point by Yugoslavia (which has meanwhile also beat the Americans in quarters). The United States drinks the chalice to the dregs with a sixth place after another defeat against Spain.
2008: THE RECONQUEST
Also beaten at the Athens Games, with young LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, but also Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson, and at the 2006 World Cup, the Americans decide to regain control by sending a formidable armada to the Beijing Games: Kobe Bryant , LeBron James, Jason Kidd and Chris Paul win an unforgettable final against Spain's Pau Gasol, who has resisted until the end. The supremacy will be confirmed at the 2010 World Cup, with youngsters then little known (Kevin Durant, Steph Curry), then at the London Games in 2012 (Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, LeBron James) and at the World Cup-2014 (Steph Curry, James Harden).
2019: THE RECHUTE
At the World Cup in China, the prestige of coach Gregg Popovich was not enough to convince the stars to come. Team USA, with only two All Star, Kemba Walker and Khris Middleton, is close to the defeat against Turkey in pool and then falls heavily against Rudy Gobert's French quarterback (89-79). This is the first time that the Blues beat a team 100% NBA. Will there be a new reaction of American pride at the Tokyo Games in 2020?
20 ??: A DAY MAYBE
Basketball will have really rocked the day when the United States will lose a big tournament having brought their best team. Given the vastness of the American reservoir compared to that of its rivals, it is not sure that the event will happen one day.
© 2019 AFP