Basketball at the Olympics
Basketball was played in the Olympics for the first time in the 1904 edition, held in France as an exhibition. But, in the 1936 edition of the event hosted by Germany, basketball was played as an Olympic medal event. However, the women’s version waited till 1976 in Munich, Germany.
Additionally, this year’s tournament will introduce a new form of the game called 3×3 basketballs.
The qualification process for the Olympics basketball event starts a year before the competition. A total of 12 teams will make the final list. These 12 teams will be divided into a group of six. The same happens in the women’s game.
Seven teams out of the 12 qualify through the FIB World Cup. Another four teams come through the qualification tournament of the FIBA. The last space is kept for the host of the Olympics. In the case of this year’s event, that spot will go to Japan.
The United States basketball team is the most successful in the history of Olympic basketball events. The men’s team has won 15 gold medals, including an unbeaten run that lasted from 1936 to 1968, while the women’s team has won eight out of ten basketball events held at the Olympics.
Kevin Durant Position
Brooklyn Nets forward and member of the US basketball “dream” team has said the team would go into the Olympics with Kobe Bryant’s passionate nature. Hence, the players intend to honor the basketball legend at the games. Kobe Bryant, who ended his playing career in Los Angeles Lakers, is a five-time National Basketball a champion and two-times Olympic gold medalist.
Kobe’s tragic death took place last year at the age of 41 in a helicopter crash with his daughter alongside seven others on the way to watch a basketball game. His death brought massive shock to fans around the world.
Durant was the leading scorer at the last two Olympic events in Rio and London. He will be leading 12 members of the US squad who are on the hunt for their 16th gold medal in Tokyo, which will commence on July 23.
“Kobe Bryant is the one all of us watched as kids. Even when he was alive and playing, his passion was embedded in us as players. From watching him, we learned what the game is about, what it takes to become successful, and we all kind of pulled from him when he was playing and was alive. Although he is no longer here with us, we will honor his teachings by going into each game with passion and energy from each player,” Durant told the reporters.
On July 8, 2021, the competition organizers decided that no spectator because of the resurgent case of Covid-19 forced the government of Japan to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo throughout the games. When asked about this development, Durant’s response was, “I was disappointed once I heard that, but I understand. We already pushed the games back a year, so we can’t want to create more troubles with the pandemic, but it is an honor and pleasure to wear your nation’s colors and do it on a big stage,” said the power forward.
The United States will start the quest for their gold medal on July 25 against France. Bettors can monitor the games and place bets by using the best basketball betting site in Nigeria.
However, the last FIBA World Cup suggests the team has to work harder because of the performance shown by teams such as Spain, Russia, and France. The head coach, Gregg Popovich, spoke to the press four days ago “my priority right now… making these players a team.”
The team had their first official practice together on Tuesday in Las Vegas to kick start their preparation for the Olympics. According to the players, the coach’s message on the first meeting on Monday night and the practice court on Tuesday was simple. They later played a warm-up game against Nigeria, which they lost (90-87), their first-ever defeat to Nigeria.
“We have got to take advantage of their abilities, strengths, and play as a unit, play for each other, with one goal in mind,” The coach said. Gregg Popovich will be in charge of his first Olympic team. Previously, he coached the team in the last World Cup held in 2019 and hosted by China. But, the team’s seventh-place finish was not what was expected of the “dream” team. The poor performance can be explained through – since many of the players invited backed out because of injuries and a host of other reasons.
The story is different this time around. Many NBA players, including MVP Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, and Draymond Green, are already in camp. More players are expected after the NBA Finals with three squad members in the playoffs with the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. The nine players in the camp need to compete as a team, given the depth of their preparations and the quality of players available to the coach. Also, listening to the reassuring words of the captain, Kevin Durant, the team is expected to win the gold medal. In Durant’s comments, “winning the gold at the Olympics would be what Kobe Bryant would have wanted, and that is what we hope to give him.”
Kobe Bryant’s Achievements
- Five times NBA champion (2000, 2002, 2009, 2010, 2001).
- Eleven times All -NBA first team member (2000-2004, 2006-2013).
- Two times NBA Finals MVP (2009, 2010).
- NBA All-Rookie second team (1997).
- NBA Slam Dunk contest champion (1997).
- Highest point tally in the history of La Lakers.
- The first player to score more than 70 points in a single NBA season since 1964.