It wasn't easy, but the U.S. defeated a very game Spanish team behind a tremendous fourth quarter from Kobe Bryant, who, really, saved the American team.
The title is the second for Coach K, who got his first with the Dream Team. Jason Kidd also won his second and completes his international career undefeated and with
two gold medals of his own.
There's a lot to talk about in the aftermath of this championship, and we'll delve into a lot more of it sometime after the sun comes up. But for now, let's look at a couple of things.
- The approach by Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski, from demanding a three-year commitment to taking a smallish team with limited inside depth, has been validated, although Spain challenged the U.S inside in the fourth quarter.Â The U.S. used blinding speed to win the tournament, although the championship game was a tougher test.
- The NBA comes out of this with a huge appeal internationally.Â Seeing the players out and about, rather than isolating themselves from everyone, was very refreshing and big for the league.Â They tapped into the world's biggest market in the biggest way imaginable.Â International expansion is all but assured, and we don't mean Canada.Â Look for the league to schedule games in China as soon as possible.
- We've avoided talking about this, but the benefits for Duke basketball, not to mention Duke in general, are also enormous. When it comes to recruiting, when you have Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and everyone else on the team sing Coach K's praises.Â Kids across the states watched this team as it caught their imagination just like it caught everyone else's.Â A lot of people said it was NBA basketball and of course it was NBA players.Â But the principles were the principles Coach K uses at Duke.Â It's appealing, and it'll appeal to recruits.