Absurd. Ridiculous. Mind-boggling. Outrageous. Shocking. Pick any word you will to describe the play of the US team today, but perhaps the best way to quantify and illustrate the event is ‘historic’. The US broke Brazil’s previous record of 138 points made back in 1988. Carmelo Anthony served up 37 points beating out Stephon Marbury’s previous record of 31 in 2004. Moreover, the US shattered the previous Olympic record for most three-pointers made and highest field goal percentage overall. So just to recap–history was made in total points, FG%, 3PT %, margin of victory and most points by a single player.
By the end of the first quarter, the spark the US had struck grew into a wildfire as they went 11/14 from beyond the arc, finishing with a collective 81.8 FG%. They simply could not miss. Kobe got hot, then Durant and soon after Anthony. Once Anthony got going there was no way for the flames to be contained. With every heat check, Anthony would drill another three-pointer while the team repeatedly jumped off the bench in praise. As he made his 10th three-point shot, Anthony jogged back to half court shrugging his shoulders, as if inhabited by the ghost of Michael Jordan. It was truly an astounding feat to watch in real time.
Take Anthony’s 10 three-pointers, add another 19, and there’s your total for today’s game. Those who complained, including myself, that the US was being too reliant on their outside shooting in its past two games were left utterly speechless. In the midst of this sensational display came a slew of jaw-dropping slams and alley oops. Though there are too many to list off, the hot potato pass from Westbrook to Love to Westbrook for the dunk was arguably the best of the day. For a good while it even seemed as though Westbrook was going to out-dazzle Anthony–he eventually finished with 21 points.
The emotion on the US bench throughout this game can best be described as pure glee. The ear-to-ear smiles and raucous laughter never seemed to go away, and though embarrassing for Nigeria, as a US fan you didn’t want it to. As competitors, this team does believe they are as good–if not better–than the Dream Team, and today was their Dream Team moment. You could tell they soaked in each perfectly placed pass and every ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ three as validation for their pure talent, individually and collectively. The case of past versus present is often filled with opinions and hypotheses that can’t be fairly judged or even tested. One thing is for sure though- numbers don’t lie, and today was this team’s stamp on history.