Greatest point guard alive Stephen Curry has declared his intention to participate in the 2020 Olympic games for the U.S. senior men’s team.
The Golden State Warrior legend told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that he’s planning on making his first appearance in the summer games, and that’s great news for Team USA.
Steph Curry on the 2020 Olympics: "The Olympics is an experience that I want and next year will hopefully be it."— Chris Montano (@gswchris) September 18, 2019
WE FINALLY GETTING OLYMPIC STEPH pic.twitter.com/znpHLyenyq
The Unanimous One’s presence on that roster will automatically provide a boost of confidence to a program that was recently shamed by a seventh place finish in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, the worst showing in USA Men’s Basketball history.
Team USA’s soaring highs and stunning lows
The U.S. Men’s basketball program is defined by the ebb and flow between exhilarating dominance and puzzling embarrassment.
First, the U.S. suffers a shameful defeat with an undermanned group. Outrage ensues, and the nation’s best players feel the call of duty.
USA Basketball then brings in superstar players to exact vengeance and restore the nation’s dignity. Once the wrongs have been righted, those same superstars no longer feel as compelled to sacrifice their summers to play for their country.
This forces the U.S. to cobble together another B-Team...which inevitably gets humiliated.
Rinse, wash, repeat. The pattern has held true for decades now, and the “shameful defeat” chapter materialized anew the moment Rudy Gobert obliterated Donovan Mitchell’s shot to seal the American team’s doom.
RUDY GOBERT BLOCKS UTAH JAZZ TEAMMATE DONOVAN MITCHELL FOR HIS 3RD BLOCK OF THE GAME AND THIS MIGHT BE IT pic.twitter.com/G6kYaObMIA— Play Gary Clark (NBA (@Itamar1710) September 11, 2019
HOW YOU GONNA LET GOBERT DO US LIKE THAT? Sigh.
And yet, we’ve seen this story arc before. Some examples:
- The U.S. men’s amateurs lost to the Soviet Union in the 1988 Olympics and took home the bronze medal. After this, FIBA lifted a ban that had kept NBA players from competing in international competition. The original Dream Team was assembled and that collection of Hall-of-Famers went on the warpath in the 1992 Olympic Games, seizing gold.
- In the 2002 World Championships, Team USA floundered to a sixth place finish; the first USA Basketball squad comprised of professionals to ever lose. The red, white, and blue bounced back in the 2003 FIBA Americas championship, cruising to a 10-0 record.
- Unfortunately, 9 of the 12 members of that team declined to return for the 2004 Olympics. The “Nightmare” team stumbled to a bronze medal finish, marking the first time an American team comprised of NBA players failed to win Olympic gold.
- When the team suffered another bronze in the 2006 FIBA World Championships, the American aura of invincibility was officially dead. Thankfully, the “Redeem Team” was born from the ashes of those failures and the U.S. won the 2008 gold medal, restoring basketball dignity stateside.
At least, until this summer, when Team USA lost their 58-game, 13-year tournament win streak with NBA players, due in large part to several star players withdrawing from consideration. It’s again time for the resurrection of the national team’s swagger, and Curry appears eager to be a catalyst for his country.
Curry can add to his legacy with Olympic gold
The two-time MVP and three-time NBA champion is often times criticized for having zero Finals MVP’s in his trophy case, despite his emphatic and repeated declarations that he doesn’t care about that hardware.
It’s clear however, that Olympic Gold is something he has his eyes set on. The megastar has never represented his nation in the Olympics. He won FIBA championships in 2010 and 2014, but was forced to withdraw from the 2016 Olympics due to devastating leg injuries he suffered during the playoffs. He’ll be 32 next season, and this may be his last opportunity to unleash peak “Assassin Splash Unanimous Mode” in the summer games on the world’s biggest stage.
If he’s able to put his imprint on this redemption tour for U.S. basketball, his legacy as one of the greatest players alive will be elevated to another level.
Patrick Ewing said of his 1992 Dream Team team experience: “It was like, the guys lost in ’88, and so then they sent in the Navy Seals. We were the Navy Seals. We were the elite forces, the elite of the elite forces. We came in, and we kicked butt and took names and got everybody back home safely.”
With Draymond Green and Damian Lillard announcing their intentions to play in Tokyo next summer, Team USA is building the firepower to once again right some basketball wrongs. Curry will be their avenging angel, delivering a good ol’ can of American whup-ass to whoever stands in the way.
Especially if it’s Rudy Gobert.