The United States reaffirmed its place atop the basketball food chain, claiming its first gold medal at the FIBA World Championships since 1994 and officially qualifying for the 2012 Olympics with a 81-64 win over Turkey.
There are hostile crowds, and there is Sinan Erdem Arena in Turkey. ESPN analyst
"The beauty about Kevin is he's pure," said USA coach
Durant's dominance aside, this U.S. team wasn't as prolific as other versions. Only Durant,
"I think this was the best defensive team [I've had], said Krzyzewski. "I believe that because they knew they needed to play defense to win. The Olympics, our guys played great defense, too, but they could outscore you also. This team, we weren't necessarily sure we could outscore somebody, but we had to defend them.
"We want to always establish defense," K continued. "We think we can play a different style of defense than any other country. We just have to learn a little bit (about the) new rules, because the NBA, you can't have a help side as much. But once they learn that, with our athleticism, if we're committed to it, then we have a weapon that can help us win."
The 'B-Team' tag chased the U.S. from Las Vegas to Turkey and each player used it to fuel their run through the world championships.
"I think that was everybody's motivation," said Durant. "Especially coming back to the United States, people who really doubted us and said it was going to be tough for us to win. We came out and proved everybody wrong. We worked hard in practice, were focused in. Coach made sure he did a great job of letting us know what we were doing out here. All we came to get was a gold. To play for a great coach like that, that really knows what he wants is a great feeling. So it was exciting to come out here and win and also to prove people wrong."
Team USA's win sets up what will surely be a controversial question: which players should represent the U.S. in London? Each member of the 2010 roster is right to argue that this team should return intact. America's young guns gelled a lot faster than expected and adapted to international play extremely well over the last two weeks.
But can USA Basketball director
"We now have a deeper pool," said Krzyzewski. "We have guys who were champions, a different team in the Olympics, and now guys who are world champs. There will be new players that will emerge. That's a good problem to have."