FIBA's landmark 1989 decision to allow professional hoopsters to compete in the Olympics led to USA Basketball's creation of the Dream Team, considered among the most illustrious collections of talent in the history of world sport. Charles Barkley averaged a team-high 18.0 points as the Americans steamrolled through the tournament in Barcelona with an average margin of victory of 43.8 points.
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1994 FIBA World Championship
USA Basketball elected to send an entirely overhauled roster featuring mostly younger stars to the World Championship in Toronto. Different players, same result. "Dream Team II" rolled through the group stage and knockout rounds before exacting a 137-91 whipping of the Russians in the final. Nascent NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal collected MVP honors.
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1996 Summer Olympics
FIBA World Championship hero Shaquille O'Neal and naturalized citizen Hakeem Olajuwon joined five members of the original Dream Team for the Olympic tournament in Atlanta, where the United States rolled to another gold medal by an average margin of victory of 32.3 points. Charles Barkley paced the Americans in scoring (12.4), rebounding (6.6) and field-goal percentage (85.3 percent), missing just five attempts from the floor in eight games.
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1998 FIBA World Championship
A labor dispute precluded NBA players from taking part in the defense of America's world title. USA Basketball enlisted a collection of players from the CBA and European leagues, including "Fab Five" member Jimmy King and future NBA All-Star post man Brad Miller. But the virtual unknowns fell short of gold, dropping a 66-64 decision to Russia in the semis before salvaging bronze with an 84-61 win over Greece in the third-place game.
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2000 Summer Olympics
An American team featuring Kevin Garnett, Vince Carter and Alonzo Mourning managed to bring home the country's third straight gold medal. But a series of close calls -- including an 85-83 win over Lithuania in the semis and an 85-75 victory over France in the final -- indicated the vulnerability of the once-invincible United States team.
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2002 FIBA World Championship
The United States played host to the FIBA World Championship in 2002. But with an increasing number of top-flight NBA stars turning down positions on the national side, the Americans were embarrassed in their own backyard. On consecutive days, the U.S. fell to Argentina in its final group game and got bounced from the quarters of the knockout stage with a loss to Yugoslavia. A six-point loss to Spain in a consolation game sealed America's sixth-place finish.
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2004 Summer Olympics
Inspired by their country's humiliation at the 2002 FIBA Worlds, a number of NBA superstars like Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan and LeBron James elected to play in the Athens Games. But a shocking loss to Puerto Rico in the opener cast serious doubts on their gold medal hopes. The U.S. team followed up close wins over Greece and Australia with a second loss against Lithuania. The Americans still managed to qualify for the medal round (barely), but a semifinal loss to Argentina sealed their doom.
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2006 FIBA World Championship
A U.S. team led by tri-captains Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony roared through the group stage of the FIBA Worlds into the semifinals, where the Americans suffered a 101-95 setback against a Greece team without a single NBA player on its roster. The United States rallied for a victory over Argentina in the third-place game -- but the bronze medal would prove little consolation for the world's fallen giants.
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2008 Summer Olympics
After winning the 2007 FIBA American Championships, the revamped Team USA -- led by coach Mike Krzyzewski and USA Basketball boss Jerry Colangelo -- earned the nickname "The Redeem Team." And at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the new-look squad didn't disappoint, dominating pool play and defeating Spain 118-107 in the gold medal game.
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