loss was not an option for the united states men’s basketball team at beijing 2008.
since the nba stars were admitted to the olympic tournament, beginning with the ‘dream team’ in barcelona 1992, the united states team had swept everything in front of them.
that aura of invincibility was shattered at athens 2004 where, after suffering group stage losses to puerto rico and lithuania, the united states lost to ‘golden generation’ argentina in the semi-finals before winning their rematch against lithuania to take the bronze.
in 2005, duke blue devils head coach mike krzyzewski, also known as coach k, was put in charge of the united states men’s basketball team in an attempt to achieve his first worldwide hit since sydney 2000.
His first major tournament, the 2006 world championships, earned him only a bronze medal and the star-studded team took Greece to the semi-finals.
But two years later, with Kobe Bryant captaining the team and without a repeat of the late retirements that hampered their hopes in Athens, the United States regained its gold in spectacular fashion.
This triumph has been immortalized in the first collaborative documentary feature film between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and netflix.
titled ‘the team redeemed’ and executive produced by two key members of the team that tasted defeat in athens: lebron james and dwyane wade – features never-before-seen footage from the Olympic archives, as well as new behind-the-scenes footage from nba entertainment.
The documentary offers an original and compelling portrait of the team formation that heralded the launch of a new era of Team USA men’s basketball at the Olympics.
‘The Redemption Team’ will be released worldwide on October 7 exclusively on Netflix.
Keep reading for more on the return of the US stars. uu. to the top of men’s basketball.
kobe bryant (captain) #10
one of the basketball greats of all time, kobe bryant was born in philadelphia but spent his entire nba career with the los angeles lakers.
bryant, who went straight to the pro leagues from high school, was drafted by the charlotte hornets in 1996 at the request of the lakers who wanted to trade center vlade divac so they could make a focus for free agent shaquille o’neal.
became the youngest man to start an nba game at 18 years and 158 days, and he and o’neal led the lakers, under head coach phil jackson, to three consecutive nba championships since 2000. -2002.
The guard finally made his Team USA debut at the Fiba Americas Championship 2007 in Las Vegas, leading the team to a 10-0 record and a berth in Beijing 2008.
To avoid a repeat of Athens 2004, USA Basketball had insisted that players commit early for games with Bryant, one of eight members of that team in Las Vegas going to China.
with fiba rules dictating that players can only wear jersey numbers between 4 and 15, bryant chose the number 10, according to pro hoops magazine, as a nod to his time spent in italy as a child .
When his father joe moved to play with sebastiani rieti, young kobe ended up playing soccer on the playground. In professional football, the 10 jersey is often worn by the team’s playmaker or best attacking player: think pele, maradona, messi.
when beijing 2008 came around, bryant was the reigning nba mvp although the lakers fell short in the nba finals as they lost in six games to the boston celtics.
Bryant turned that disappointment into motivation that inspired the star-studded American. team as an emotional leader.
‘black mamba’ showed great maturity in beijing, despite a ligament injury in the little finger of his shooting hand, racking up 15 points per game, including his iconic triple with little more than three minutes. remaining in the gold medal game against Spain (followed by his finger to the lips).
bryant won two more nba titles (2009 and 2010), as well as a second olympic gold in london 2012.
When he retired in 2016, he was third on the all-time scoring list and remains the highest scoring shooting guard in nba history.
wrote an open letter titled ‘dear basketball’ to announce his retirement, which was later made into an oscar-winning animated short.
In January 2020, she died in a helicopter crash along with her daughter gianna and seven others. He was posthumously inducted into the hall of fame later that year with the all-star mvp award renamed in his honor.
carlos boozer #4
Born on a military base in Germany but raised in Alaska, Carlos Boozer was one of four members of the 2004 Athens bronze medal team.
Prior to his Olympic debut, he had just completed a controversial move from the Cleveland Cavaliers to utah jazz.
The power forward was more settled this time around and had a familiar face in coach Mike Krzyzewski, who won the NCAA title with Duke in 2001.
boozer was not on the americas championship team, but his excellent performances in the 2007-08 nba season, which earned him an all-star second selection, landed him on the olympic roster after love ‘e stoudemire withdrew citing fatigue.
He didn’t get much playing time in Beijing, averaging less than seven minutes per game and missing the final, though he had six points and six rebounds in just nine minutes of the USA’s last win over Germany in the group.
Injuries, including one that required knee surgery, hampered him after Beijing, though he enjoyed some success after moving to the Chicago Bulls in 2010.
He was released by the Bulls in 2014 and spent one season with the Lakers before a brief stint back in China with the Guangdong Southern Tigers. he announced his retirement from professional basketball in December 2017.
jason kidd #5
At age 35, Jason Kidd was the only 30-something on the Beijing team and the only previous gold medalist to win at Sydney 2000.
an injury caused him to miss athens 2004, but he returned to china, where he was entrusted with the starting job despite claims by chris paul and deron williams
kidd played a more defensive role just as he had in the previous year’s americas championship.
The San Francisco man had recently returned to the Dallas Mavericks, the team that drafted him, after seven seasons in the New Jersey nets.
Known for his steady stream of triple-doubles, posting double figures in points, assists and rebounds in one game, the point guard showed glimpses of his skills in Beijing, most notably with his seven assists in the semi-final. -Final victory over current Olympic champions Argentina.
following his second olympic gold, kidd was one of the key men in the mavericks’ first nba title in 2011, beating a miami heat team with his colleagues from the redeemed team lebron james, dwyane wade and chris bosh in the final.
retired in 2013 after one final season with the new york knicks before becoming head coach of the brooklyn nets.
Despite leading Nets to the playoffs, he went on to the Milwaukee Bucks where he helped launch the career of future mvp giannis antetokounmpo before being fired during his fourth season.
He then won an NBA title in 2020, in the Florida bubble, as an assistant coach for the Lakers before returning to the Mavericks as head coach in 2021.
The 10-time all-star ranks second on the all-time assists and steals list behind dream team star john stockton in both. kidd was inducted into the hall of fame in 2018.
lebron james #6
lebron james continues to build his legacy as one of the all-time greats in the nba.
As one of four members to experience defeat in Athens 2004, the forward from Akron, Ohio had established himself as one of the greats of his generation by the time Beijing arrived.
in 2007, james led the cleveland cavaliers past the detroit pistons to their first-ever eastern conference title before they were swept in the nba final by the san antonio spurs whose head coach, gregg popovich, was assistant to the united states team in athens.
Before Beijing, he became the Cavs’ all-time leading scorer and won the NBA scoring title ahead of MVP Bryant.
Having been a supporting player at Athens while still a teenager, James started for Team USA in Beijing and played a key role in their success.
he averaged 15.5 points, scoring double figures each time, 5.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.
james won back-to-back nba titles with the miami heat on both sides of his second london 2012 olympic gold.
he returned to cleveland to secure a first nba championship for them in 2016 before winning a fourth title with a third different team, the lakers, in the pandemic-affected 2020 season.
This year he made his 18th appearance in an all-star game, putting him on the same level as bryant and one behind the record held by kareem abdul-jabbar .
‘king james’ now sits second on the all-time points list with, again, only abdul-jabbar ahead of him.
He has also become a strong advocate for social justice and funds public and charitable initiatives in Akron, his birthplace, including the i promise school, through his foundation of the lebron james family. >.
deron williams #7
Walking into john stockton’s shoes as a playmaker for the utah jazz was always going to be a big question, but deron williams certainly gave him a fair shot.
after spending five days with the big man, the west virginia native soon established himself as utah’s premier point guard and even drew favorable comparisons to the dream team legend.
williams helped the jazz reach the 2007 western conference finals, where they were relegated to the san antonio spurs and played for team usa in their victorious american championship campaign.
although he did not start, ‘d-will’ enjoyed significant time on the pitch and scored in double figures in the group stage against spain and in the quarter-final victory over australia.
his friendly rivalry with chris paul (number four pick in 2005 nba draft to number three williams) continued in beijing with ‘cp3’ getting a bit more playing time .
williams made the first of three consecutive all-star appearances in his final season on the jazz in 2010 before a long-running feud with veteran head coach jerry sloan caused him to join the nets of the new shirt.
During the 2011 nba lockout, he enjoyed a brief stint with besiktas and the Turkish team retired his number 8 jersey when the lockout ended. He then won a second Olympic gold at London 2012.
after a few years of ups and downs in the nets, even after his move to brooklyn, fitness deserted williams after he joined the dallas mavericks in 2015, and then he was a peripheral figure in a spell in the james cavaliers in 2017, who suffered their final loss to the golden state warriors.
A father of four, Williams spends time running his MMA gym in Dallas and won his first professional boxing fight – and he says it’s his only one – against former NFL star Frank Gore on the jake paul-tyron woodley rematch undercard last December.
michael redd #8
michael redd was at his peak before winning gold in beijing 2008.
The Columbus, Ohio native was drafted in the second round by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2003 that he would become a starter after Ray Allen moved to Seattle.
He became a star in 2004 and really began to establish himself as one of the best shooting guards in the league with an impressive ability to shoot long range baskets.
redd demonstrated that prowess at the 2017 americas championship, making a record 29 three-pointers and averaging 14.4 points per game.
had less of an impact in beijing with kobe bryant starting, but hit three 3-pointers in 13 minutes in the opening win over china. he had to settle for a weird cameo after that and missed the finale.
Back in the NBA, Redd torn the anterior and medial cruciate ligaments in his left knee just four months after winning Olympic gold.
A year later, shortly after returning, he tore those ligaments again and played one season with the Phoenix Suns before retiring from basketball.
After retirement, Redd turned his attention to venture capitalism and invests in media and technology companies.
dwyane wade #9
born in chicago but synonymous with the miami heat, dwyane wade was one of the best shooting guards of his generation.
after his first season in the nba, where he came third behind james and carmelo anthony in the voting for the rookie of the year, he struggled in athens 2004, where the united states managed only bronze .
Having led the series to his first nba title alongside shaquille o’neal in 2006, wade also won bronze at the 2006 fiba world championship before that an injury ruled him out. the 2007 championship of the americas.
but in beijing he showed how much he had matured during the olympic cycle, leading the team with 16 points per game and top scorer with 27 off the bench > in the gold medal match against spain.
wade won two more nba championships with the heat, with james and chris bosh in 2012 and 2013, but knee surgery forced him to miss london 2012.
After brief stints with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, upon reuniting with James, Wade returned to the Heat for the end of the 2017-18 season.
announced his intention to step down after the 2018-19 campaign and walked out in style.
in his last game, wade recorded his fifth career triple-double with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for the heat in their loss to the brooklyn nets with james, anthony and chris paul cheering him on the court.
He is now a co-owner of Utah Jazz and will almost certainly be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2023, his first year of eligibility.
dwight howard #11
The youngest member of the roster in Beijing, dwight howard more than proved his worth as the team’s starting center.
howard was part of the usa team. uu. who won bronze at the 2006 world championships and, after his first of eight consecutive all-star appearances, started the most games in their 2007 americas championship triumph.
The orlando magic star was at his best in china, averaging 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. in the last game of the group, germany had no answer as howard scored 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Seen as a somewhat divisive figure, Howard left Orlando for the Lakers in 2012 after back surgery ruled him out of the London Olympics.
After one season with the Lakers, he spent three years with the Houston Rockets where he formed a powerful partnership with James Harden.
After that, there were brief stints at Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington before returning to the Lakers and winning his first NBA title in the pandemic-affected 2019-20 season.
after a season in philadelphia, howard had a third stint with the lakers and is currently a free agent.
chris bosh #12
chris bosh was often a player overshadowed by others during his career, but his excellence was recognized with induction into the hall of fame in 2021.
Picked fourth overall by the Toronto Raptors in 2003 behind James, Anthony and Wade, the Dallas-born power forward had to regularly play out of position at center and try to deal with bigger men in the painting.
The following year, he assumed the role of team leader when vince carter, the man responsible for the ‘dunk of death’ in sydney 2000, left the franchise.
had his first of 11 consecutive all-star selections in 2006 and won bronze with team usa. uu. at the world championships before missing the 2007 americas championships due to a foot injury.
but he returned to beijing and more than played his part surrounded by his most famous teammates, once again taking center stage.
bosh averaged a team-leading 9.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in the eight games, making seven boards in the gold medal game.
He continued to excel with Toronto before joining the Miami Heat along with James and Wade for the 2010-11 season. The trio took the series to the NBA Finals at the first attempt, but the Dallas Mavericks proved too strong.
then came back-to-back championships before another loss in the nba finals as the san antonio spurs avenged last season’s loss.
james’s return to the cleveland cavaliers left two of the ‘big three’ in miami, but bosh was found to have blood clots in his lungs after the all-star game in january 2015 that ruled him out of the rest of the season.
After returning to his best and participating in the All-Star game again, a blood clot in his calf ruled him out of the game and signaled a dangerous recurring condition.
the heat finally fired him and retired his number 1 jersey, and bosh, after 18 months of waiting to return, announced he was resigning. It was official in March 2019 when his #1 jersey was lifted to the rafters before a game with the Orlando Magic.
chris paul #13
He may be one of the best players to never win an nba championship ring, but 37-year-old point guard chris paul still has time to fix that in his third season. with the phoenix suns.
‘cp3’, the 2005 nba rookie of the year, made his national team debut at the 2006 world championships, where he was one of several players struggling to show their best form when u.s. uu. won bronze.
despite missing the 2007 americas championship, he returned to the beijing team after participating in his first nba all-star game and leading the league with 11.6 assists and 2.7 steals per game for the new orleans hornets.
The North Carolina native was also second in the MVP voting behind Bryant, who took the number 10 jersey Paul had worn at the world championships.
with coach k opting to start with jason kidd, paul capitalized on his opportunities on the floor by drawing fouls and connecting from the free throw line with aplomb, particularly in the last minute of gold . medal game against spain.
After years of failing to make the conference finals, Paul moved on to the Clippers before the shorter 2011-12 season, after which he again won Olympic gold at London 2012.
his fortunes improved when he joined james harden on the houston rockets, but the best they achieved was the western conference finals in 2018, where they lost to the golden state warriors in game 7 after paul was ruled out of the last two games with a hamstring injury.
After a season-one first-round playoff exit at the Oklahoma City Thunder, Paul reached the NBA Finals for the first time in 2021 with Phoenix but, after leading 2-0, giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks won four straight to win the title.
This year, they lost in seven games in the Western Semifinals to the Dallas Mavericks, and that NBA title is still eluding cp3.
prince tayshaun #14
tayshaun prince became famous by defeating kobe bryant in the 2004 nba finals, helping the detroit pistons to a 4-1 series win over the lakers.
The forward from Compton, California was known for his defense and averaged five rebounds and 7.3 points per game in the 2007 Americas Championship that secured him a spot in Beijing.
Although he only had limited game time in china, prince made useful contributions in both meetings with spain. he was 3-of-4 for 3-pointers on a 10-point drive in pool play, and made all three of his field goal attempts (all 2-pointers) in just eight minutes in the gold medal game.
krzyzewski later wrote of the finale: “tayshaun didn’t do those things when we had the game in hand, he did them when we needed them.”
Prince’s career flagged somewhat after his Olympic gold and after 10 1/2 seasons in Detroit, he had relatively unsuccessful spells in Memphis and Boston before returning to the Pistons for the end of the 2014-15 season.
retired from the nba after one season with the minnesota timberwolves. Prince is currently the vice president of basketball affairs at one of his former teams, the Memphis Grizzlies.
carmelo antonio #15
previously the leading point scorer for team usa. uu. at the olympic games, carmelo anthony remains the most decorated men’s basketball player in history with three golds and one bronze.
That bronze came in athens 2004, but redemption came four years later in beijing for the man from new york city.
anthony, who won the ncaa title with syracuse, was impressed with his score after being selected third in the 2003 draft by the denver nuggets. lebron james beat him for the 2004 rookie of the year award.
Before Beijing, he led the Nuggets to the playoffs in his first five seasons, but they were eliminated in the first round each time. He came to China after his second consecutive appearance in an all-star game.
The versatile striker started for the United States team, although he only averaged just over 19 minutes per game. He had extended playing time in the semifinals, where he made all 13 of his free throw attempts, but only made 3 of 14 from the field, in his 21-point run against reigning champions Argentina.
his best production came in the group victory over spain, he hit four triples and scored 16 points. he also scored 13 points in their gold medal rematch, including three 3-pointers.
the following season, ‘melo’ finally recorded a victory in the playoff series, but the nuggets lost the western conference finals to the lakers. And in 2010 and 2011, Denver returned to first-round exits with Anthony moving on to the New York Knicks before claiming a second Olympic title at London 2012.
Extended postseasons continued to elude Anthony, though he became NBA scoring champion in 2013. he missed the playoffs for the first time the following year.
rio 2016 saw anthony win a third gold medal, although his usa men’s team record 336 points. uu. he was upstaged by kevin durant at last year’s tokyo 2020 games.
While he continued to score freely, it wasn’t until he joined the Oklahoma City Thunder for 2017-2018 that he appeared in the postseason again. The result was a first-round start and, after a brief stint in Houston, he had two more first-round starts at the Portland Trail Blazers.
last season, he joined james on the lakers but it was a disappointing season for the franchise with anthony now a free agent. he is currently ninth on the nba’s all-time scoring list .
mike krzyzewski (coach)
When mike krzyzewski was given the job of restoring the united states men’s team to its former glories in 2005, united states director of basketball jerry colangelo helped him, insisting that the players commit to beijing 2008 at least a year in advance.
which saw no less than eight members of the team that won the 2007 americas championship go to china, in stark contrast to the chaos caused by late withdrawals before athens 2004.
Coach K had been at the helm of Duke University since 1980 and led the team to NCAA titles in 1991, 1992 and 2001 with Carlos Boozer on the last championship team.
The work ethic was always paramount in his spirit and he recalled telling the players before the gold medal game: “The coaching staff will take you to the bus after the game if necessary. We’re going after them with five Guys, let’s be relentless.”
On the team bus, there were signs that read: “play hard. play smart. play together. 40 minutes from gold.”
and they did so when team usa. uu. claimed his first world title since sydney 2000.
Krzyzewski turned down numerous proposals from NBA teams to remain with the Duke Blue Devils, winning more NCAA Championships in 2010 and 2015.
He also led the United States to repeat gold in London 2012 and Rio 2016.
Coach K finally retired in April 2022 after 42 years in charge.