Team USA basketball has not lost in the international arena since 2008. From 2004 to that year, the team has not dominated the scene like they are known to do.
A new article has revealed the person to blame for their struggles in one of the tournaments, the 2004 Olympics in Greece, naming head coach Larry Brown as the reason why the United States settled for the bronze medal that year.
Before the 2002 FIBA World Cup in the United States, where the team just made the quarterfinals, Team USA was 24-0 in the Olympics since Michael Jordan and the “Dream Team” played at the 1992 Spain Olympics.
NBCOlympics.com did an oral history feature interviewing some of the key guys and experts for the 2004 team for Team USA and which is revealing NBA rumors that their head coach was the man to blame for performing so low that year.
“Larry Brown didn’t like the team. Larry Brown liked coaching veteran players. The oldest guy on the team was 28 years old,” ESPN basketball reporter Chris Sherdan said.
Sheridan also claimed that there was some tension between head coach Larry Brown and point guard Stephon Marbury, whom Brown wanted to cut from the Olympic team.
“To me it was simple: they picked the wrong coach at the time,” Marbury stated in the same article. “I really had a bad experience with Larry Brown in the Olympics. It was a team full of All-Stars and he was trying to coach the team like it was his team. Telling guys how to play the “right way,” what they should and shouldn’t do on the court, instead of just trying to win that gold medal.”
Richard Jefferson, currently a veteran playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers was also part of the 2004 team.
“I remember in the qualifier for the Olympics, he told Jason Kidd, “Hey Jason, I know you’re really good at the fast break, but I want you to stop at the free-throw line and throw a bounce pass to one of the wings,” Jefferson stated.
“And you’re sitting here talking to the second all-time leading assist guy and one of the most dominant point guards of all time. Truth be told, that’s probably why nine guys decided that they didn’t want to go do the Olympics.”
Here are Team USA’s records both in the Olympics and FIBA World Cup since 1992:
Spain 1992 – 8-0 (gold)
United States 1996 – 8-0 (gold)
Australia 2000 – 8-0 (gold)
Greece 2004 – 5-3 (bronze)
China 2008 – 8-0 (gold)
United Kingdom 2012 – 8-0 (gold)
FIBA World Cup
Canada 1994 – 8-0 (champion)
Greece 1998 – 7-2 (third place)
United States 2002 6-3 (sixth place)
Japan 2006 – 8-1 (third place)
Turkey 2010 – 9-0 (champion)
Spain 2014 – 9-0 (champion)
Photo courtesy: Elmosera/Wikimedia Commons