From 1992 to 2000, the U.S. Olympic basketball team was the best in the world. During that time, the team won three Olympic gold medals and had one of the best basketball teams ever assembled in the Dream Team.
But in 2004, the Olympic had a talented group of young players and had high expectations of winning gold at the Olympics, but that was not the case.
A look at the 2004 Olympic team
The team featured a mixture of young players and players who have spent had a few years under their belt playing in the NBA. When you look at that roster, they had some talented players, and on paper, they were a team that could win the gold medal. The U.S. won the previous three gold medals, and this team wanted to add another one to the collection. Three team members finished their rookie seasons in Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and LeBron James. One player who finished his college career was on the team in Emeka Okafor.
Then you had the guys who were among the league’s best in Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, and Tim Duncan. You also had guys who were making a name for themselves in the league like Carlos Boozer, Shawn Marion, Amar’e Stoudemire, Lamar Odom, and Richard Jefferson. So that was the 2004 Olympic basketball team representing the U.S. Whenever you have the chance to represent your country in any way is an honor. The U.S. dominated in previous Olympic Games, and the world knew that the U.S. would always come out and perform at a high-level.
Though this team had young players, they were talented and athletic. Larry Brown was the head coach of that team, and he was coming off an NBA title with the Detroit Pistons. Some NBA players take the summer to relax, spend time with family, and also work on their game. But every four years some players want the chance to represent their country. Brown had a coaching style that not too many players agreed with. In an interview with NBC Sports, Richard Jefferson said that he believed some players didn’t want to play on the team because of Brown being the head coach.
A disappointing performance at the 2004 Olympics
The 2004 Olympics did not get off to a great start for the U.S. team. In the team’s first game, they suffered a surprising upset loss to Puerto Rico 92-73. The loss was the team’s third and largest loss in the Olympics. That loss caught a lot of people by surprise because they weren’t used to seeing the U.S. team lose games.
The U.S. team would win their next two games against Greece and Australia and then suffered another disappointing 94-90 loss to Lithuania. Even with two losses, the U.S. still had a chance to play for the gold medal. The team went on to advance to the semifinals against an Argentina team that featured other NBA players. The U.S. could not pull out the win and missed out on the gold medal game.
The 2004 U.S. Olympic team was a complete let down
The U.S. team settled for a bronze medal during the 2004 Olympics. After winning the last two Olympic gold medals, the bronze medal was a step back for the U.S. team. That group of players on that team did not have the same team chemistry that the previous U.S. teams had. When you have a team of mainly younger players, it’s hard to build team chemistry quickly. It also doesn’t make things better when one of the star players does not gel with the head coach.
Stephon Marbury was almost sent home during the Olympics because he feuded with Brown. Marbury was fed up with Brown’s coaching tactic and how Brown sent Greg Popovich to kick him off the team. It was an all-around bad experience for the U.S. team in 2004. The U.S. team was able to bounce back during the next three Olympics and win the gold medal.