The United States men’s basketball team won the gold medal game against Serbia 96-66 at the Rio Olympics, yet there comes a question of how meaningful winning a basketball Olympic gold medal is compared to claiming an NBA championship.
Los Angeles Clippers DeAndre Jordan, a member of the 2016 Rio Olympic team told ESPN: “I think they’re above NBA rings. You’re playing teams from all over the world. And this is even more special because there’s an NBA champion crowned every year, but this is every four years.”
I would have to disagree with Jordan along with most people, simply because it is more difficult to win an NBA title. You are playing mostly against Americans, the country that’s been the top in basketball for around the past ten years. The NBA is also the most professional league that a player can be in.
This year, past NBA champions such as Lebron James, Stephen Curry, Dwyane Wade and even recently retired Kobe Bryant said no to competing in Rio. Other players pulled out as well due to injury, concerns over the Zika virus or lack of interest.
It seemed that New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony wanted to secure his legacy as the greatest player in Olympic basketball history, as he received his third consecutive gold medal, despite never winning an NBA title.
While it is nice to watch the U.S. in action against other countries, the level of success of winning an Olympic gold medal does not come close to that of winning an NBA championship.
The last time the U.S. men’s basketball team lost in an Olympic competition was to Argentina in the semifinals at the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, and they beat Lithuania to win the bronze medal.
After Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski took over as head coach of U.S. basketball in 2005, the team has amassed a record of 75-1, with the only loss coming from a game against Greece in the semifinals of the 2006 FIBA World Championship.
One final thought to point out is that during the Olympics, the sports that get the most headlines are swimming and track and field events, along with the superstar athletes Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt. When June comes along, everyone is locked into either the NBA finals or the Stanley Cup.
For Jordan and Anthony, you can call yourselves world champions, but your greatest accomplishment in basketball has yet to come.