A look at how the maligned hitherto known FIBA World Championship made stars out of America’s current group of Star Ballers.
The start of the 90’s marked the beginning of something great in the world of sports starting with a team from the “dark” continent-Africa make it into the final eight of the FIFA World Cup. A couple of dozen months later, an unknown team fresh from what previously existed as the USSR, created a frenzy by doing the impossible on the greatest stages of all; the Olympics. Barcelona 1992 games gave birth to the other “Dream Team” from Lithuania to etch its name into the history books as the ultimate symbol of victory after decades of independence struggle.
Together Arvydas Sabonis, Sarunas Marciulionis, Rimas Kurtinatis and Valdemaras Chomicius formed a core that wielded Lithuania’s hopes and dreams of a better future into a bronze medal. Now the real ” Dream Team” to put it mildly, put basketball on the map so even when other United States Olympic Basketball teams that played after 1992, victory was assured because they were the extension of the Dream Team. However,it took just two egotistic guards in Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury to send the untouchable “Dream Team” USA crashing following a diabolical-bronze winning- performance in Athens 2004.
Heading into Rio 2016, Team USA Basketball is back to doing what it knows best;winning. All seems certain for the “Redeem Team”-that’s their new nickname- to win a third consecutive gold at the Olympics with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony as locks for what is sure to be a star studded team come August. However, Team USA didn’t present a star riddled roster at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey to win gold.
Thanks to inglorious ingenuity from Mike Krzyzewski, Lamar Odom, fresh from winning the year’s NBA Championship over eternal rivals Boston Celtics, was the established name on the team. Chauncey Billups was light years removed from his great championship banner lifting years from Detroit Pistons but aside Danny Granger and Eric Gordon, its a tad surprising how the “B Team” produced elite players including MVP’s.
Beginning from the top, no player benefited more from playing in Istanbul than Derrick Rose. The 2008 number one Draft carried into 2010-2011 season the momentum of winning Team USA’s first World Championship since 1994 to chalk another historic feat albeit on a personal level. Rose powered Chicago Bulls to claim the Eastern Conference’s best regular season record and the Conference Finals before falling to LeBron’s Miami Heat.
His inspired play earned him the Most Valuable Player of the Year award and at 21, become the youngest MVP ever.Off the court, Rose’s form and subsequent achievement ushered in “The Rose Rule” that fetched him 30% of the Bulls salary purse; a novelty for any rookie in history. A shoe deal from sports wear giant Adidas, made Rose the company’s top basketball endorser. Another playoff run the following year was curtailed by an ACL injury and just like that, Rose ends up missing more games than 19 year veteran Tim Duncan.
A skinny baby-faced Guard bereft of lateral quickness, body strength, knack for a killer pass and strong ankles, Curry’s ascension into the upper echelons of world hoops is nothing short of staggering. The Davidson stud has developed into a two way force with low turnover rates who can shoot from anywhere on the court and even beyond it- check out his pre game shooting routine. Curry is the late bloomer in this team after battling ankle injuries which slowed down his production right from being drafted into the league in 2009.
The turning point of his career came during Golden State Warriors surprise run to the Western Conference semi final after ousting top seed Denver Nuggets in the first round before falling to Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs. Steph was named MVP following his standout role for winning Golden State’s first championship in 40 years and is on course to repeat as MVP this season with a jaw dropping stat line of 30.1 points, 6.6 assists and 2.1 steals.Like the rapid rise of their top level ambassador who recently signed an extension that included ownership stakes, sport clothing company Under Armour is quickly making gains on Adidas and Nike in the sports wear market following a record $153 million dollar sale of Curry’s shoes in three months.
His position on the court may on the decline due to evolving schemes in the modern game but Kevin Durant’s combination of height, length, speed, balance and shooting touch is unparalleled. Freak athletes Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo check all the boxes listed sans the latter. Like his unparalleled skill set, Durant’s play was unparalleled in the tournament as he was named the tournament’s MVP.
Four years down the line, he made his mark in the world’s greatest basketball league by being named the NBA’s MVP. He is part of the league’s revered 50-40-90 club with the likes of legends Steve Nash and Michael Jordan. Unsurprisingly, his on court success has spilled over to make the 6 foot 10 inch forward very rich as he re upped his deal with shoe maker Nike for $300 million dollars.
For people who have seen Vines of Kevin Love sucking on defense and earning lead contention for “Shaqtn A Fool” which might have had a hand in David Blatt’s sacking, it will appear out of place to label Love a standout from the 2010 group. Yes Love isn’t the best defender but he makes up for it with his outstanding rebounding abilities and shooting range.
In the aftermath of the gold quest in Istanbul, Love headed to frigid Minneapolis and topped the NBA in rebounds. Aside rebounds, his overall play earned him the Most Improved Player of the Year award as well. The Cleveland Cavaliers would not have handed Love a $110 million dollar five year contract before the season start if they didn’t believe in his talent.
Derrick Rose’s run to the NBA Finals was stopped by LeBron’s Miami Heat and the Heat were stopped by Chandler’s Dallas Mavericks. Even before the showdown with Miami’s “Big 3” of “King” James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, Chandler anchored Dallas to inflict a clean sweep of he Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs to bring legendary coach Phil Jackson’s attempt at another three-peat( three succesive championships) to an end.
Jackson lost his job and Kobe failed to equal Michael Jordan’s haul of six NBA Championships. Tyson’s incredible “Iron” defense throughout the year and the playoffs ensured Dirk Nowitzki avenged Dallas’ 2006 loss to the Heat in six games. For his efforts, Chandler was voted Defensive Player of the Year.
Russell Westbrook- Multiple MVP contender who led Oklahoma City Thunder to 2012 NBA Finals. Won gold at London Games in 2012.
Rudy Gay- signed max deal with Memphis Grizzlies for five years worth $82 million dollars after 201-2011 season and won gold at FIBA 2015 World Cup.
Andre Iguodala -Two time NBA All Defensive player which led to he being declared Finals MVP IN 2015 as the Golden State Warriors were crowned champions.
Great piece bro! !!!