With their 5th straight gold medal in hand, the women’s USA basketball team has become an Olympic dynasty. As the London games began, there was a certain aura of greatness about this team. They exemplified the kind cool, stoic confidence that Bill Russell did when you saw him grace the hardwood . That greatness spilled over into their competition in excess, as the team sported an uncanny 32 point differential going into their final game against France on Saturday.
However, success is something the U.S. women’s basketball team has always been familiar with. The team did not lose a single international match from 1994 to 2006, until the team was derailed by Russia in the 2006 semifinals of the FIBA world champion. However the team still secured Bronze, even without several core players and the absence of phenom Lisa Leslie. So more or less, the history of the U.S. Woman’s rise to their 5th gold medal hasn’t been so much a struggle, as it has been a dedication to the brilliance they know they are capable of.
Subsequently, a brilliance France also seemed well aware of Saturday, as they looked rather lackadaisical throughout the game and prior to it. Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News captured the atmosphere beautifully when he stated,
“The French players weren’t merely happy to be here in this gold medal game against the U.S. women’s basketball team. They were stunned, delighted, practically falling over themselves in celebration, giggling in warmups.Their coach had declared the whole night something of a festive gala, a losing night out on the town.”
As the quote might seem slightly condescending, or others might scoff thinking France lacked the desire to win, they simply knew they were outmatched. Its actually slightly reminiscent of how the 1992 men’s dream team was treated. So as the 86-50 victory shows, France understandably appeared to come out with the semi-surrendered mindset of “Let’s give our best, make our country proud, and let the chips fall as they may.”
Nonetheless, these women proved once again why they are one of the greatest basketball teams ever assembled. The game was highlighted with MVP performances by superstar Candace Parker who finished with 21 points and pulled down 11 boards, and Diana Taurasi who finished with 9 points, 6 assists, and lock down defense on Frances star player who finished with 8 points on 10 attempts.
All in all, as we look back on this years run their only real challenge came against Australia. The team even found themselves down by 4 points at the half, do to the outstanding play of Australia’s star center. But in an almost premeditated manner , the U.S. Switched to a zone defense and swarmed their way to a comeback 86-73 victory. A win which certainly demonstrated the U.S. Women teams resilience and unparallelled level of talent. Just imagine this team with Brittney Griner in 2016, the rest of the world will be.