The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

For USA Basketball, an arduous journey to a familiar destination

Kevin Durant helped lead the United States to another gold medal. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

SAITAMA, Japan — There was no signature, jaw-dropping highlight such as Vince Carter’s “Dunk of Death.” There were no legendary stories such as Charles Barkley roaming through Barcelona’s streets like a pied piper. There wasn’t the typical “Dream Team” hype — Team USA’s men’s basketball team was occasionally overshadowed in Tokyo by Slovenian sensation Luka Doncic and even CUE5, Japan’s basketball-shooting robot.

But there was, in these pandemic Olympics marked by mostly empty stadiums, strict coronavirus protocols and inconvenient tip-off times back in the United States, a fourth straight gold medal for Team USA, which held off France, 87-82, in the final at Saitama Super Arena on Saturday. France settled for silver, as it did in 1948 and 2000. Australia beat Slovenia, 107-93, to win bronze, its first ever medal in a major international competition.

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