5 things to know about 'The Redeem Team' from 2008 Olympics originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Ever since NBA stars Dwyane Wade and LeBron James revealed that they would be teaming up to produce a Netflix-collaborative documentary on the 2008 U.S. men's Olympics basketball team, fans have been on the edges of their seats waiting to see the film.
"The Redeem Team," as the doc is affectionately called, will give fans a behind the scenes look at the group that set out to restore America's place in Olympic basketball after an embarrassing bronze medal finish, which team USA received in the 2004 Athens Games.
Many of the clips show interviews by the team that was coached by Duke’s Hall of Fame coach Mike "Coach K" Krzyzewski. It also includes intimate and memorable moments of Kobe Bryant, who was the 2008 captain of the Redeem Team.
While fans look ahead to the upcoming film, here are five things you should know about the Redeem Team ahead of the much-anticipated doc, which is set for release on Oct. 7:
1. Men's Olympic basketball in America was at an all-time low
Team USA has always proven dominant throughout the years with teams like the 1992 Dream Team that showed how powerful a group of the best NBA stars can be internationally.
Having won gold in the previous three straight Olympic Games (1992, 1996 and 2000), the Americans were heavily favored to win Olympic gold again in 2004, under the leadership of Larry Brown and captains Allen Iverson and Tim Duncan. However, the team won bronze and lost three games against its opponents, which are the most games ever lost by a U.S. men's Olympic basketball team.
2. The 2008 Redeem Team was among the youngest Olympics basketball team by average age
The average age of the Redeem Team was 26.0 years old, which at that time made them the youngest U.S. Olympic team that consisted of NBA players to win gold. Dwight Howard (22), James (23), Chris Paul (23), Chris Bosh (24), Deron Williams (24) and Carmelo Anthony (24) had not yet seen their 25th birthday during the 2008 run.
Of the seven U.S. Olympic teams that were formed with NBA players since 1992, only the 2012 team, which averaged 25.8 years old, was younger.
3. Players on the 2008 roster had to participate in offseason training camps
Players that were playing in the 2008 Olympics were required to make a three-year commitment to the team and devote their summers ahead of the Beijing Games. Those on the roster were expected to show up to Las Vegas where they would participate in offseason training camps and also compete in other qualifying tournaments.
4. The 2008 men's basketball team was a very "lucky" bunch
The 2008 Olympic Games were held in Beijing, China, where eight is said to be the luckiest number in the country's culture. It is associated with wealth, prosperity and success. The start of the Beijing Olympics kicked off on Aug. 8, 2008 (08-08-08) and the U.S. men's basketball team went on to compile an 8-0 record, winning gold for Team USA.
5. Playing in the 2008 Olympic games was Kobe’s career redeeming moment
Up until his 2008 Beijing appearance, Bryant had not participated in Olympic basketball before then. Many thought he would replace Grant Hill for the Sydney Games in 2004 after Hill went down with an ankle injury, but Bryant said he was “leaning toward not going” to Sydney if asked. Hill ended up being replaced by Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
In 2004, Bryant was unable to join the Athens group for legal reasons. He was, however, requested to join team USA for Olympics basketball in Beijing, which the five-time NBA champion gladly accepted. At the time Bryant, then a 29-year-old superstar guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, was at the prime of his career coming off of his historic 81-point performance against the Toronto Raptors just two years prior. It was also on the heels of a very public feud with his old teammate Shaquille O’Neal.
This was the moment that Bryant would have the opportunity to show the world that he wasn't a selfish player, as he was labeled at the time, and would be able to successfully play winning team basketball. And he did just that.