Athens Olympics in 2004 was the first time in modern era when Team USA failed to win gold. The Americans lost twice against Puerto Rico and Lithuania in group stage and were knocked out by the eventual champions Argentina in semi-final. Team USA took revenge against Lithuania in a bronze medal game and finished third.
The outcome shocked USA Basketball as well as the world. Jerry Colangelo took over management of the team after being named director of USA Basketball. Team USA had a clear goal of returning to the top. The path was not all that smooth. The Americans failed to win the next major international basketball tournament – FIBA World Basketball Championship in 2006 as they finished third.
Finally, a Redeem Team was assembled for Beijing Olympics in 2008 which included some of the biggest NBA stars in Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and others. After a memorable final against Spain, the Americans reclaimed gold. Michael Redd, who was a member of Team USA since 2005, recalled the path to the top.
“It was amazing, it was an amazing experience,” Redd recalled on the newest episode of 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network. “It was the highlight of my athletic career, by far. To make the Olympics for one, on the team was surreal and then to win a gold medal on top of that was like wow uh what a surreal experience. And to do it with the best players in the world, playing against the best players in the world — so it was an incredible, incredible experience. I think for me the journey made the moment all the more greater.”
“So there was a three-year process with our team we started in 2005, 2006 of being together in the offseason, training together and Jerry Colangelo and Coach K wanted to have a cohesion and chemistry rather than just coming together in 2008 for the first time and playing together. We knew we couldn’t just compete with the world by just coming together as an all-star team. We had to have time together, cohesion, chemistry, so we spent three years before we even got to the gold medal game together, and I think that propelled us into victory. It was a love for each other, it was a brotherhood.
“There was a trust that we all developed amongst each other and we knew each other’s games and so the three-year process, the training camps, the dinners, the lunches, the time together made that moment winning the gold medal what it was. And I’ll never ever ever forget that moment and we have a bond all of us have a bond to this day.”