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Fourth-Place Medal

No one on the 1996 men’s basketball team wanted to be the leading scorer, get drug tested

Fourth-Place Medal

Charles Barkley and Grant Hill celebrate winning, not taking drug tests (NBA Photos/ Getty).

Since the 1992 Dream Team, the USA Basketball Men's National Team has brought together the best players in the world. Being the top player in that group, then, is a pretty major mark of accomplishment. It stands to reason that an All-Star would want to establish himself as one of the elite of the elite and lead the team in scoring as often as possible.

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In 1996, though, that was not the case. In fact, according to '96 gold medalist and new Los Angeles Clipper Grant Hill, no one wanted to lead the team in scoring for fear of ruining their days with some early drug testing. From an interview on "The Dan Patrick Show" (via TBJ):

It was actually pretty funny — nobody on the team wanted to be the leading scorer in those games, in the Olympic games. Because whoever was the leading scorer, ended up having to be drug tested.

And the reason for that is the drug testing process, you'd be there for two hours after the game. And so nobody wanted to be there and have to go through that whole process.

So if you watch those games and you watch the highlights at the end of the games, everyone is being super unselfish passing the ball. Because no one wants to shoot (laughs).

It is probably good news that no one wanted to be drug tested because they were really high all the time or on serious performance-enhancing drugs. It's also for the best that Charles Barkley wasn't tested too often — something tells me he might have been kicked off the team for traces of opium from eating too many poppy seed muffins.

Given that the '96 Olympics were in the very familiar city of Atlanta, It makes a lot of sense that players wouldn't want to waste too much time dealing with the testing process. These athletes would have had plenty of other ways to spend their time (likely too many, really). Plus, even in a city they all knew, the Olympic experience is worth soaking in as much as possible.

[Related: Kevin Love unhappy with his role on Team USA]

Of course, the '96 team was able to play this way because they were so much more talented than everyone else in the tournament. They won their eight games by an average margin of 31.75 points, with the closest coming in a 98-75 quarterfinal win over Brazil. In the current era, with a higher standard of play throughout the world, it's hard to imagine Team USA being able to go undefeated without each player taking clear chances to score.

So don't anticipate LeBron James and Kevin Durant passing up open looks in London. If that strategy cuts into their pregame relaxation time and harshes their mellow, I'm sure they'll be happy to deal with the hassle.

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