Well it's here! For basketball fans, the Olympic gold medal game is a bit akin to Santa visiting, and like Christmas, we're hoping not to get switches and ashes. Â Or a silver medal.
But what a treat it is to have Olympic basketball, to witness the game's growth around the world, to see the British actually have a decent team, to see little Lithuania go toe to toe with the Yanks, to see how beatifully Argentina plays now and what tremendous talent Spain brings to the court.
But in basketball, the Americans are still a singular presence. There is no one in the world quite like LeBron Jones; no one else has a Kobe, no one can keep an Anthony Davis cooling his heels on the end of the bench.
Moreover, the Americans, since Coach K took over, have lost just one game, to the Greeks. And this team?
Well, it won't do to assign a final status for them before the final game, but the comparisons with the 1992 Dream Team are interesting and more so as the tournament rolls on.
The 1992ers likely would have an eternal tie breaker in Michael Jordan, but even so, this team has proven it can toy with almost any team in the world, and that's a higher standard than it was in 1992. The athletes are better conditioned, stronger, faster, although we'd give 1992 the benefit of superior fundamentals.
Still, regardless of what happens Sunday, the U.S. team has proven to be spectacular. They can win on three point shooting, they can win by simply turning the game over to LeBron, or they can win by choking the spirit out of the opponent.
The Spanish are a stiffer test, and we wouldn't put to much stock in the pre-Olympics friendly. Spain was, naturally, holding back.
They won't do that on Sunday. They'll likely try to either push the offense in at their stable of big men or, if the U.S. three point shooting is off, then employ a zone a la Argentina.
Spain is a taller team but that doesn't always matter.Â And the tie breaker of course is the U.S. signature defense.
For all those reasons, we think the U.S. is the team to beat.Â But if that's not enough, there's this: it's Coach K's last game with the Olympics.Â Given the bond that he's formed with his team, they'll likely be fired up more than they normally would.