The U.S. men's basketball team faced constant and sometimes relentless criticism ever since it began scrimmages ahead of the 2020 Olympics for its lack of dominance on the court. But the team still managed to win gold in Tokyo, and coach Gregg Popovich gave an emotional speech after the win directed at those same critics.
"I'm so proud to be a part of this, it's like the best feeling I've ever had in basketball," Popovich said in the locker room after winning gold. "And I would just like to say to all those people out there: How the f--- you like us now?"
The U.S. men's team was filled with generational talent and some of the best players the NBA had to offer but fans and critics were quick to dismiss the team when they seemed anything other than unbelievably dominant. Team USA went 2–2 in exhibitions—including an 0–2 start after a loss to Nigeria and Australia and the noise began.
"In the beginning, you know, people are talking about 'Why is he on the team? He should've taken him. What happened to him? Why is he there?' All the pundits, all these people that they think they know something," Popovich said. "And then we start out getting our a---- kicked after a couple practices and there it [criticism] comes again."
The Americans also lost their first game in Tokyo 83–76 to France which was its first Olympics loss since 2004. But it was their last loss of the Tokyo Games and they went on to avenge it in the gold medal game to beat France 87–82 and win gold for the fourth Olympics in a row.
Naturally, Popovich took aim at all the doubters as his team celebrated after once again bringing home gold.
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