7. Aug. 24, 2008: 🏀 The Redeem Team wins gold
12 years ago today, Kobe Bryant and the "Redeem Team" beat Spain, 118-107, to win gold at the Beijing Olympics.
The backdrop: The U.S. was coming off disappointing bronze medals at the 2004 Olympics and 2006 FIBA World Championship. The mystique of the Dream Team was gone — erased by the generation of international talent it had inspired.
The roster: Bryant was a global phenomenon and the captain of the team, having just won NBA MVP at age 29. Surrounding him was a group of young players that have since changed the face of basketball, led by 23-year-old LeBron James.
- PG: Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, Deron Williams
- SG: Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Michael Redd
- SF: LeBron James, Tayshaun Prince
- PF: Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer
- C: Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard
"You've seen 'The Last Dance' when everybody ran up on Jordan when he was in Paris? That's how it was for Kobe in China. ... It was all about Kobe."— Dwyane Wade, who's producing a "Redeem Team" documentary
The final: After winning their first seven games by an average of 30 points, the Redeem Team was locked in a tight one in the fourth quarter of the gold-medal game when Rudy Fernandez's three-pointer pulled Spain within 91-89.
"That was the most pressure I've ever felt in international competition, and in that timeout, Kobe ... said, 'We got it.' We didn't even run a play. [Kobe] made a couple plays … and all of a sudden we won."— Mike Krzyzewski, head coach
The big picture: Bryant and the Lakers proceeded to win back-to-back NBA titles, and the U.S. won another gold medal in London four years later. But what the Redeem Team did in 2008 remains the standard, and returned a sense of pride to USA Basketball, largely because of Bryant.
"[Kobe's] first day of practice when that team got together that summer, he set the tone. The ball was up in the air, it hit the floor, and he dove for a loose ball, and there it was. That was the beginning."— Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball chairman