Philadelphia 76ers fans like myself won't see another basketball game for over two months after the Team USA Olympic gold medal win. We also won't see Andre Iguodala in uniform again until the Oct. 31 opening game between the Sixers and Denver Nuggets - with Iguodala in a Denver uniform. Things are about to really change for Iguodala as he leaves the Sixers for the Nuggets, yet he will head to Denver with a gold medal around his neck.
However, the USA basketball team didn't make it easy for once. The gold medal game with Spain on Aug. 12 was a rare actual challenge for the Americans, just like the 2008 gold medal battle with the Spanish. Yet while America ultimately won by 11 in 2008, it only won by 107-100 in the rematch, although a win is a win - by seven or 83 points.
Since this was a nail biter, Iguodala had to spend most of it on the bench instead of helping Team USA run out the clock. The new Nugget only got in two minutes of action, in which he had two fouls and one rebound. Only James Harden and Anthony Davis had less playing time with one minute apiece.
Yet because the U.S. couldn't put Spain away like virtually every other Olympic opponent, it had to rely on its mega stars. Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Chris Paul all played over 30 minutes, with the Americans needing them on the court as much as possible. They needed Durant's 30 points , five three-pointers and nine free throws to balance out Pau Gasol's 24 points and Juan Carlos Navarro's 21. And they needed James to hit some clinching shots in the final minutes to finish Spain for good.
With USA basketball still on top of the world, these icons can celebrate together before going back to fighting each other for NBA gold. Durant and James will certainly be expected to do that for some time, although the Los Angeles Lakers are now back in the conversation by landing Dwight Howard. Iguodala's trade to the Nuggets and Andrew Bynum's move to the Sixers played a small part in that, so a lot of new eras will begin the next time basketball returns to the spotlight.
The USA capped off this last hurrah until late October by withstanding an actual threat, clamping down on Spain in the fourth by giving up just 18 points, and providing one last showcase for James and Durant. Iguodala and most of their other Olympics teammates will be looking up at those two for the next decade, so they should have savored playing with them - and not losing to them over and over - while they could.
For Iguodala, he will be looking up at Durant in the Western Conference now instead of at James in the East. But that is nothing compared to how the basketball world still looks up at the United States 20 years after the Dream Team - even if the Olympics have closer games every now and again.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and 76ers fan.
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