Team USA basketball has had it’s share of elite teams over the years. The famous 1992 “Dream Team”, the 2012 team that absolutely dominated en route to gold, but arguably the most important team for the county was the 2008 USA squad that was dubbed the name the “Redeem Team”. What were they redeeming? The Olympic squad from 2004 that lost the most games of any USA basketball team and didn’t even make it to the gold medal game. Now, in 2022, this teams story will be told like never before thanks to two members of that 2008 team, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, who have come together to executive produce a documentary on the teams journey. So, what should we expect to see in this documentary, and how does it relate to today’s national basketball scene? Let’s dive in.
We already know thanks to reports that there will be some never before seen footage in the documentary. This means we’ll get a behind the scenes look at generational players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony that we’ve never seen before. But, we also are sure to here about what this teams mission was: restore USA basketball to its former glory. Leading up to the 2004 Olympics, the USA has dominated the international basketball scene thanks to having stars like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Micheal Jordan leading the way. It was expected they would win gold every tournament they were in, but it became clear after their opening game against Puerto Rico where they suffered a 19 point loss that things would not be so easy this time around in Athens. Eventually, the team would suffer to losses against both Argentina and Lithuania which put the US in the bronze medal game where they were at least able to win and make the podium. But, making the podium wasn’t good enough for USA basketball. There was a lack of want to play for the nation from top stars and that had shown two years earlier in 2002 during the FIBA championships where the USA had placed 6th. It was time for change, and 2008 brought that. From 2004 to 2008, there was a major power shift in terms of the best players in the world. The US best stars now included MVP’s Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, as well as other superstars like Carmelo Anthony and multiple time DPOY Dwight Howard. However, the big key in all this was they all signed up to play. The USA squad was now stacked for the first time in a long time, and they went to work. The team went 5-0 in their pool and set up a date with the, at the time, #2 ranked basketball country in the world, Spain in the gold medal game. Spain was in its basketball golden years, as NBA star brothers Marc Gas & Pau Gasol were in their prime, and Spanish legend Rudy Fernandez was one of the greatest EuroLeague players we had seen. But, the USA was up to the challenge that gold medal game, as they defeated Spain to complete the redemption arc. However, there’s another element to this journey and hopefully the documentary that should catch everyone’s attention.
Basketball is a growing game, no matter how big or popular it may seem to us now. International stars and countries, like in the 2000’s, are getting stronger and are showing they can matchup with what the USA has to offer. With load management becoming popular and some players lacking the want to play for the USA, we could see another 2004 team very soon, maybe even as soon as the next Olympics. Look at Greece. They have the Antetokounmpo brothers. Look at France. They have NBA DPOY Rudy Gobert. Look at Canada. They have a young core of All Star level NBA talent. Look at Slovenia. They have Luka Doncic. Look at Serbia, they have NBA MVP Nikola Jokic. It is important, I think, that American players play in these international tournaments and flex the nations strength in a sport they have been known to dominate. It’s like if Brazilian soccer players just lied down and stopped playing for the nation in World Cup’s. The world is getting better, and the USA must stand their ground, and I hope the documentary expresses this.
The “Redeem Team” documentary is sure to bring some great entertainment to the basketball world. You can catch it on Netflix this October and witness the story of one of the greatest teams of all time from a never seen point of view.