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BASKETBALL

Dream Team to Nightmare Team: LeBron, Wade & the USA that suffered Olympics humiliation

After three Olympic golds on the bounce with NBA players in their team, the USA suffered a disastrous campaign at the 2004 Games in Athens, despite the legendary names in their roster.

Update:
A key figure in the history of American basketball, the legendary coach was unable to bring structure and direction to a team that arrived in Athens hit by absences and with a very young roster. Assistant coach at Sydney 2000, he took charge of the USA af
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Larry Brown

A key figure in the history of American basketball, the legendary coach was unable to bring structure and direction to a team that arrived in Athens hit by absences and with a very young roster. Assistant coach at Sydney 2000, he took charge of the USA af

PHOTO:Jamie SquireGetty Images
The captain was 28 in Athens and averaged 12.9 points and 9.1 rebounds. Duncan didn’t live up to his legendary status - he’s without doubt the best power-forward in history - but, together with Richard Jefferson and Allen Iverson, was one of the few who d
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Tim Duncan

The captain was 28 in Athens and averaged 12.9 points and 9.1 rebounds. Duncan didn’t live up to his legendary status - he’s without doubt the best power-forward in history - but, together with Richard Jefferson and Allen Iverson, was one of the few who d

PHOTO:ADREES LATIFREUTERS
The USA’s other captain and a complicated character who clashed with Brown. Despite that, Iverson was the highest scorer (averaging 13.8) in a team that were known as Dream Team IV when they started out, but ended up as the Nightmare Team. After 24 succes
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Allen Iverson

The USA’s other captain and a complicated character who clashed with Brown. Despite that, Iverson was the highest scorer (averaging 13.8) in a team that were known as Dream Team IV when they started out, but ended up as the Nightmare Team. After 24 succes

PHOTO:DONALD EMMERTAFP
James bounced back as part of the Redeem Team at Beijing 2008, and also won gold at London 2012, but the beginning of his international career was a disaster. He was just 19 when he was called up due to the USA’s swathe of absences, together with other em
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LeBron James

James bounced back as part of the Redeem Team at Beijing 2008, and also won gold at London 2012, but the beginning of his international career was a disaster. He was just 19 when he was called up due to the USA’s swathe of absences, together with other em

PHOTO:Helen H. RichardsonDenver Post via Getty Images
Jefferson ended up as a highly valued veteran who played an important part in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA title win in 2016, when the Cavs overturned a 3-1 deficit against the Golden State Warriors, led by James and Kyrie Irving. But at the time he was a
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Richard Jefferson

Jefferson ended up as a highly valued veteran who played an important part in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA title win in 2016, when the Cavs overturned a 3-1 deficit against the Golden State Warriors, led by James and Kyrie Irving. But at the time he was a

PHOTO:Jamie SquireGetty Images
A legend of New York basketball, his level of talent was only comparable to that of his indiscipline and difficulty of character. Fourth overall pick in the 1996 draft, he was an All-Star in 2001 and 2003, but his NBA career went south pretty quickly. He
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Stephon Marbury

A legend of New York basketball, his level of talent was only comparable to that of his indiscipline and difficulty of character. Fourth overall pick in the 1996 draft, he was an All-Star in 2001 and 2003, but his NBA career went south pretty quickly. He

PHOTO:Friedemann VogelBongarts/Getty Images
Another player who was at his peak when the Athens Games came around. He was never a superstar, but he wasn’t far off that level in his time as a hyper-physical, agile small forward in the Phoenix Suns side coached by Mike D’Antoni and led on the court by
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Shawn Marion

Another player who was at his peak when the Athens Games came around. He was never a superstar, but he wasn’t far off that level in his time as a hyper-physical, agile small forward in the Phoenix Suns side coached by Mike D’Antoni and led on the court by

PHOTO:Sean GarnsworthyGetty Images
Very young at the time, Stoudemire’s best years would come with the Suns after the 2004 Games, where he was just 21 and averaged 2.8 points and 1.8 rebounds. A physical beast who went on to be a six-time All-Star but suffered from knee problems that cut s
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Amare Stoudemire

Very young at the time, Stoudemire’s best years would come with the Suns after the 2004 Games, where he was just 21 and averaged 2.8 points and 1.8 rebounds. A physical beast who went on to be a six-time All-Star but suffered from knee problems that cut s

PHOTO:Ezra ShawGetty Images
Another legend who made a bad start to his international career. Anthony was 20 and playing for the Denver Nuggets when he was hastily summoned to help fill the void left by the USA’s absentees. Bronze in 2004 would be the first of four medals and the beg
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Carmelo Anthony

Another legend who made a bad start to his international career. Anthony was 20 and playing for the Denver Nuggets when he was hastily summoned to help fill the void left by the USA’s absentees. Bronze in 2004 would be the first of four medals and the beg

PHOTO:TAMI CHAPPELLREUTERS
Another player who was very young (22) when he went to Athens. He had arrived in the NBA in the 2002 draft, so had only been in the league for two years when he became an Olympian. He averaged 7.6 points and 6.1 rebounds and afterwards, during the best pe
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Carlos Boozer

Another player who was very young (22) when he went to Athens. He had arrived in the NBA in the 2002 draft, so had only been in the league for two years when he became an Olympian. He averaged 7.6 points and 6.1 rebounds and afterwards, during the best pe

PHOTO:LUCY NICHOLSONREUTERS
Odom was 24 and had already been in the NBA for five years when he was selected for the Athens Games, where he averaged 9.3 points and 5.8 rebounds. Having moved from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Miami Heat 12 months earlier, that summer he was sent to
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Lamar Odom

Odom was 24 and had already been in the NBA for five years when he was selected for the Athens Games, where he averaged 9.3 points and 5.8 rebounds. Having moved from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Miami Heat 12 months earlier, that summer he was sent to

PHOTO:Andreas RentzBongarts/Getty Images
Another legend of the 2003 draft, together with James and Anthony, for whom Athens came too soon. Aged 22 and with just a single NBA season under his belt, he averaged 7.3 points at the 2004 Olympics. Four years later, he bounced back with the Redeem Team
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Dwyane Wade

Another legend of the 2003 draft, together with James and Anthony, for whom Athens came too soon. Aged 22 and with just a single NBA season under his belt, he averaged 7.3 points at the 2004 Olympics. Four years later, he bounced back with the Redeem Team

PHOTO:Jamie SquireGetty Images
At 21, Okafor was older than James and Anthony, but he was still only a college player. He didn’t arrive in the NBA until that summer, as the number-two pick in the draft behind Dwight Howard, who beat him to Rookie of the Year. A centre of extreme physic
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Emeka Okafor

At 21, Okafor was older than James and Anthony, but he was still only a college player. He didn’t arrive in the NBA until that summer, as the number-two pick in the draft behind Dwight Howard, who beat him to Rookie of the Year. A centre of extreme physic

PHOTO:Matt StroshaneGetty Images
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