Now 32, Kevin Durant is an established American professional basketball player and awarded nearly every conceivable NBA honor, as well as world champion, Olympic champion, millionaire, and soccer club owner. However, he still feels the joy of success there on the field, that second satisfaction when the ball drops through the net of the basket with soft applause after high play.
The second quarter of the Olympic final against France. The game is too small to lean in any direction. Bam Adebayo penetrates the French defense with one of those fast, sharp passes that you have to provide first. Durant is the licenser, catches the ball, sinks the layup to lead 32:24, cheering as if the initial decision has been made.
The Americans were crowned Olympic champions in basketball at the Saitama Super Arena on Saturday with an 87-82 victory over France. Naturally. You almost always become an Olympic basketball champion. They have participated in 19 Olympics with one in the Tokyo Games – the United States won 16 of them. Winning gold was basically a natural, if you consider how many talented NBA workers have been earned to work under the rings, a reflection of normalcy in international basketball.
“We must have lost the match because of the details,” said France captain Batum.
However, the success of the NBA stars sent a powerful message to anyone who believed that the current generation of highly paid professional basketball players in the United States could only complete an Olympic mission with routine ball passes. Captain Durant himself defended the fire that brought this team to the gold medal after the opening defeat against later opponent France. The epilogue was also a showcase of their art. The American team showed that basketball was and will be an American game.
The French quarrel. “We must have lost the game because of the details,” captain Nicholas Batum said, looking at the final result. “Only five points,” despite the high error rate, “we didn’t even play our best game.” Moon Dew, there was more in her, he wanted to say. “We shot in the leg,” said defender Rudi Gobert, who was disappointed. Coach Vincent Colette also complained of too many minor ball losses in front of the advancing American defense in the second half of the match. “I think that’s what hurts us the most today.”
They were right, but during the game you never felt that the French had a chance against talented people from the United States. Vincent Colette, 58, is a meticulous strategist, building his team since 2009, when he took over as national coach. Players like Batum or Nando de Colo have stayed with him ever since. Together, they have won many medals and created a collective culture based on automation and teamwork.
The French basketball team is a long-term project of recognized value and also with some NBA professionals. And when they beat USA 83:76 in the first set game, it looked as if their growing team spirit was exactly the decisive advantage against the short-term selection of American coach Gregg Popovich, veteran coach and president. From the San Antonio Spurs.
In fact, the American appointees had no rhythm in the first match. They knew who they were from each other, but they had never played together like this before. In addition, Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Puppy Holidays arrived just a few hours before kick-off because they had to play the NBA Finals with the Phoenix Suns (Booker) and the Milwaukee Bucks (Middleton, Holiday), which the Milwaukee won. Surprising was decent after the defeat. Popovic groaned. He said: “I don’t understand the word surprise, it’s kind of resentful of the French national team as if we should kick them out at the age of 30, the talent gap is shrinking every year because there are more and more players everywhere.” the world.
Nobody can keep up with the US team – the talent gap is too wide at the moment
But then the Americans remembered their talents. Popovich put them together without brainstorming concepts and let the forces work. Since then there are no more problems. Aggressive defense, high speed passing game, ball safety. Nobody can keep up, not even France after all. “I put more and more pressure in the third quarter, we knew that. But knowing that is one thing, doing something about it is another,” Vincent Colette said. And about Kevin Durant, Rudi Gobert said, “We tried to make it really hard for him. But he’s Kevin Durant. He makes throws that no one else can do in the world.”
The talent gap is very wide at the moment. And at Olympia, which NBC broadcasts with great effort, the NBA Americans are not kidding ready to play. The French encouraged each other. To be disappointed with the silver medal, pleased Nicholas Batum, who plays in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers. “It’s satisfying to be frustrated, that’s a sign,” he said. “Five years ago we were still satisfied with fifth place.” The team is growing, and who knows what it can do at the Games in Paris in 2024.
And what about the Americans? They couldn’t cheer violently. They jumped a little, and put the US flag around their shoulders. They delivered what was expected of them – no reason for the long dances. Like some warm thoughts.
“When you’re part of a team that’s growing every second, it’s great, we’ve improved in every game,” Durant said. This was his third Olympic gold after competing in London and Rio, and he spoke of how impressed he was about the process by which people unite in the tournament. “You realize that’s the way that matters to you. You do the job and you get the gold. But if you go that way, it’s something very special.” You can tell by looking at Kevin Durant: He was very comfortable.
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