It took eight years, but you can finally call Team USA's men's Olympic gold medallists.
The 'Redeem Team' rolled over Spain by 37 points in the pools, but eked out a hard fought 118-107 victory over Spain to claim the gold medal and finish the Games unbeaten.
In a game more akin to an NBA all-star game in terms of the non stop scoring, Spain showed why they won the 2006 FIBA championship and were determined to make Team USA work for it. Team USA shot a lights out 71 percent in the first half and still couldn't run away from the gritty Spaniards. Spain has been having a banner sports year themselves and dearly wanted to add Team USA to its lengthening list of high profile sports victories.
They almost got their wish. With 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter Spain closed to within two points of tying the game. It took a critical four point play from Kobe Bryant to finally allow Team USA (and its fans) to exhale and start celebrating a moment that we've been waiting for ever since the 2002 embarrassment of Indianapolis, the less than scintillating 2004 bronze medal performance in Athens and falling in the semifinals of the 2006 FIBA World championships in Japan.
All is right with the basketball world until the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey. We have claimed basketball supremacy in the sport we invented for now. But we know we can no longer step on a basketball court wearing a USA jersey, say boo and win by 50. The rest of the world has game as well.
See y'all in Turkey and London.