TOKYO — The U.S. men’s basketball team continued its run of Olympic dominance on Saturday. The Americans edged France 87-82 in the gold medal game to win their fourth straight title at the Games stretching back to 2008.
Kevin Durant of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets once again led the way offensively for the U.S. He scored 29 points and sealed the win with two last-second free throws. “To fight through this adversity against a great team, to come together so fast it was beautiful to see, it was beautiful to be a part of,” Durant said. Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz and Evan Fournier of the Boston Celtics each had 16 to lead a French team that beat the Americans in their first meeting in Tokyo.
For the U.S., the victory ended an Olympic run that began with doubts — the Americans weren’t big enough, skeptics said, hadn’t played together enough … and the world was catching up.
“I think it’s more joy than relief, but definitely some relief. The expectations that get placed on Team USA, there is some relief because of those, especially with us losing a few games,” said USA point guard Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers. “It’s like we have to get it done, so finally getting there and pulling it off in the gold medal game you can only exhale.”
A number of the other Olympic teams had current or former NBA players mixed into their lineups. But the entire U.S. team was made up of top-tier NBA athletes and it now has a fourth straight gold medal, and seventh in the last eight Olympic Games.
Overall, the gold is the 19th medal won by Team USA in men’s basketball (16 gold, 1 silver, and two bronze). With the victory, the U.S. record in Olympic competition is 150-6, a .962 winning percentage.