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YouTube Gold: US-Argentina, 2004 Olympics Basketball

Mens Semis ARG v USA
ATHENS - AUGUST 27: Gabriel Diego Fernandez #9 of Argentina celebrates defating United States in the men’s basketball semifinal game on August 27, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Indoor Hall of the Olympic Sports Complex in Athens, Greece. Argentina won 89-81.
Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

In 2004, the US took LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Alan Iverson, among others, to the Athens Olympics.

They lost to Argentina in the medal round, 89-81 and wound up winning bronze.

It’s hard to believe that happened with so much talent, but that team had some problems. First, it didn't really get along very well, second it was the worst three point shooting team in the field and third, Larry Brown, who had always been a solid coach, had no idea what to do with this team.

The enduring memory of this team is that while opponents shot threes, the US preferred to drive and obviously threes add up faster than twos.

The other problem it had is that it played Argentina, whose national team was at its legendary peak.

Led by Juan Ignacio Sánchez, Luis Scola and the brilliant Manu Ginobli, the Argentines played basketball like Brazil plays soccer - they made it a beautiful game.

The US team lacked many things, but mostly it lacked the tight cohesion of the Argentine team. When the Americans fell behind, they had no idea of how to catch up.

Much of this was corrected by 2008. Mike Krzyzewski brought a big, versatile and athletic team that pressured everyone and that could also shoot outside. They killed people in transition.

But in 2004, Argentina was supreme. Watch how brilliantly they carve up the US. It’s not fun, but it is beautiful, beautiful basketball.