Team USA Wins Gold, Beats Serbia 96-66


The most inevitable of inevitables happened on Sunday as the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio drew to a close – the United States won the gold medal in men’s basketball.

Kevin Durant led the way once again, scoring 30 points as Team USA made the gold medal game more of a business as usual scrimmage. DeMarcus Cousins had a double-double of his own, scoring 13 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.

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There were storylines all over the place in this game. Carmelo Anthony featured in his final Olympic game, winning a third gold medal. During these Olympics, Anthony either set or extended a series of Team USA records including points and 3-point attempts while finishing second in 3-pointers made.

The on-going saga of Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes spending excessive time on the bench, even in a blowout, turned from headscratcher to a launching pad for the belief that it was something more than that. Namely, that Green was being punished for his Snapchat gaff, while his performances, or lack thereof, will be the empirical evidence that the anti-Barnes factions of social media will use as the basis for decrying his massive contract with the Dallas Mavericks.

As athlete’s like to say, at the end of the day the best team won. Erratic performances from Durant, Anthony and Cousins aside, the United States did what was necessary to win. Following their 2004 “failure,” Team USA has won three consecutive gold medals and 53 games in a row in international competition.

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Jimmy Butler finished out the Rio Olympics on a strong note, continuing the consistency he displayed for most of the games this summer. Another less than stellar scoring line – two points, one assist, one block, and five rebounds – didn’t keep Butler off the court as he clocked 14 minutes of action.

When asked about winning gold, Butler said, “This isn’t just for me. It’s for everybody, my family, my friends, our country. It’s big. This is what we came for.” Butler is the first member of the Chicago Bulls to win a gold medal as a member of the Bulls team since Scottie Pippen in 1996. New teammate Dwyane Wade has a gold medal of his own from the 2008 games, but he was a member of the Miami Heat at the time.

It’s been an incredible journey for Butler, from his difficult childhood to his time navigating through the college ranks and eventually to Chicago, the NBA, a lucrative contract and now, a gold medal. In the same media session where Butler discussed winning the gold medal, he was also asked if he would have imagined winning a gold medal at the Olympics five years ago. “No. Not at all. Five years ago, that’s a long time. I’ve come a long way. This is incredible. It’s really big. Not just for me, but for everybody that got that gold and for our country as a whole,” .

Serbia thrilled throughout the tournament, making an improbable run to the final. However, they didn’t have the depth needed to run with the Bulls’ Butler and the rest of Team USA.

Butler will be carrying a lot of momentum and confidence into the 2016-17 season and hopefully that momentum can help propel Chicago to bigger and better things. Now that the Bulls have two gold medal winners in Butler and Wade, they can look to move the team forward, back into the playoffs. Oh, and Nikola Mirotic will be bringing his bronze medal-winning skills to the table as well.

Congrats to Butler and Mirotic, now the countdown to the regular season begins.