By the end of the summer of 2016, the only numbers that mattered were 16 and zero. That was the mark the United States Olympic Men’s Basketball Team amassed as they continued to dominate on the world stage. In the process, they took home gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Games.
However, there were some challenges along the way.
During the 2012 Games in London, the American team average margin of victory was 32.1 points a game. Team USA withstood a challenge from Lithuania during pool play. Entering the fourth quarter of that game, Team USA trailed 82-80. But LeBron James scored nine of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to help the U.S. to a hard fought 99-94 victory.
The Gold Medal game against Spain was no easy task for the Americans. The game featured 16 lead changes and six tie games, but Kevin Durant led a balanced attack with 30 points to help the Americans earn a 107-100 victory, in a rematch of the 2008 Final. James chipped in with 19 points, seven rebounds and four assist and Kobe Bryant added 17.
Durant led the team in scoring with 19.5 points per game and Carmelo Anthony had 16.3 ppg, all coming from off of the bench.
During the 2016 Games in Brazil, the Americans entered the tournament with a younger team and had 10 players making their first appearance during the Summer Games. The lack of experience showed in the final three games of the preliminary round, where Team USA were tested by Australia, Serbia and France. Team USA won those games by only a combined 16 points.
Anthony carried the American team against Australia, scoring a team-high 31 points and became Team USA’s all-time leading scorer. His 3-pointer late in the game help spark a run that helped the Americans seal the victory. Against Serbia, the Americans jumped out to a 16-point lead in the first quarter, but Team USA could not shake off the Serbians in the 94-91 victory. The Americans had six players in double figures, led by Kyrie Irving, who had 15 points and five assists.
In the next game against France, Klay Thompson had 30 points, making seven 3-pointers as the Americans won 100-97. Irving had 10 points and tied the U.S. Olympic record for assists with 12.
In the Gold Medal game, a re-match against Serbia, the Americans had a much easier experience. They cruised to a 96-66 victory and Durant led the way with 30 points and four assists.
Durant once again led the team in scoring, averaging 19.4 points in eight games. Anthony was second, averaging 12.1 points.
The Americans extended its Olympic winning streak to 25 games and Anthony became America’s first four-time Olympic male basketball player.