Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, an assistant for Team USA, is contributing a journal to the Syracuse Post-Standard.
Boeheim has seen it all in his prolific career as a titan of college basketball, but even he finds himself blown away by the collection of talent the Americans put on the floor against some pretty stiff competition.
In his most current post for the Post-Standard, Boeheim keys on what it means to have LeBron James as the sharpest tool in Team USA's shed:
Everybody knew [Spain was] the best team we’d face, and now we've got them. It’s down to the two of us for the gold. It should be a really good game. They played us close in ’08 in Beijing, so they’re going to be confident and they’re going to give us the best that they've got. I know that.
I also know this: I’m glad we have LeBron on our side. He’s just so dominant. He’s so physically imposing that there’s stuff he does out there on both offense and defense that is hard to imagine. Because everybody knows his offense, sometimes you don’t notice his defense. But he’s all over the court at that end.
Look at what he did to Argentina. He got 18 points, seven rebounds, seven assists . . . and it was just another game for him. His leadership, his maturity, his attention to detail -- all of that is so much improved. He simply does everything well.
And here’s a little secret: It’s one thing to have physical talent, and LeBron’s got more of that than anybody. But to be smart, too? Well, that's LeBron. He’s a really smart player. He just knows how to play basketball. And on top of everything else, he’s a good guy. He’s got a great sense of humor. He’s low-key. He minds his own business. LeBron is fun to watch and he’s fun to be around.
Boeheim also extends a ton of respect for Argentina, a team that has repeatedly pushed the Americans to revitalize its national program over the past decade and become a more disciplined squad. But Boeheim also recognizes that as golden as this age has been for the Argentines, there are few teams in the world that can check Kevin Durant when he's being ... Kevin Durant:
You kind of have to feel for those guys on the Argentina team. Their good players are getting older and they can only go hard for a certain amount of time, so after a while they wear down.
And then, they have to deal with somebody like Kevin Durant.
Think about it. You’re playing as hard as you can and you're getting tired . . . and then a 6-foot-11 guy comes down, stops and makes ‘threes’ on you. Man, that’s got to be tough. It’s got to be demoralizing. No question about it.
That’s what happened on Friday night when we beat Argentina 109-83 in the medal-round semifinals.