We used to talk of the dream team, but this was the tournament of a dream player.
Such is America’s dominance of Olympic basketball that the quadrennial intrigue is not so much whether the US will win gold as whether they could lose it. But for Kevin Durant, the doomsday scenario might have come to pass.
France beat the US in their opening game of the tournament but fell narrowly short in the rematch on the last day. The 32-year-old Brooklyn Nets forward, the nerve centre of the US team, was the chief reason. He scored more points and played more minutes than anyone on the court in a game that ended 87-82, the measliest winning margin in a men’s or women’s final since 1972.
That a tepid start did not spiral into cause for alarm owed much to Durant’s production and determination. He contributed 21 points as the US led 44-39 at half-time.