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How the supremacy of US basketball players is falling apart bit by bit

In preparation for the Olympic Games, the US basketball players lost two test games in a row for the first time ever. After the 87:90 against Nigeria, it is an 83:91 against Australia.

Since NBA professionals first played for the US national team in 1992, the bankruptcy in Las Vegas was only the fourth loss in 58 test games. The spectators covered their team – probably unique – with whistles. “We’re still working on becoming a team,” said NBA star Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers after the encounter in which he was the best thrower for Team USA with 22 points ahead of Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets – 17 points).

Coach legend Gregg Popovich looked pissed off at the post-game press conference and had a verbal argument with a journalist, but insisted that he was satisfied with his team. “We were better today, I was happy about what I saw,” said the 72-year-old, who coaches the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA. “We got tired in the second half.” At halftime, the USA had led 46:35 against the Australians. “We’ll look at it and learn from it,” says Popovich.

No opponent for the dream team

The current generation clearly does worse than previous NBA stars. At the 1992 Olympic Games, for example, the “dream team” led by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird won their matches with an average of 44 points difference.

But the dominance melted like snow in the sun in the last 29 years. A walk like it used to be is no longer an option. A few months before his death at the Basketball World Cup in China in 2019, Kobe Bryant predicted that gold medals would no longer be an easy game for the USA in the future. “It’s not about the rest of the world catching up with the US,” so Bryant. “The point is that the rest of the world has been catching up for some time.”

Other countries are catching up

After the tournament in China you could see how true the words of the late basketball legend were. The USA finished the World Cup in seventh place, the worst result that an American team has ever achieved in a major international tournament.

Now comes the chance to make amends. The USA can win the fourth Olympic gold medal in a row in Tokyo. World champions Spain, Australia, France and Argentina in particular can be dangerous for them. The tournament is also likely to surpass the record number of 46 NBA players – set at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Nigeria had six NBA professionals on the court in the coup against the USA. “NBA stands for Nigeria Basketball Association”, one user stated with a smile afterwards.

“The other teams and these other countries just keep getting better. These players are getting better and more confident – they really want to beat us. You definitely notice that when you’re on the pitch », also recognizes Lillard.

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