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‘Redeem Team’ wants more than Olympic gold

US men’s basketball is trying to fix its image (and win) by putting teamwork before ego. Quarterfinals start Wednesday.

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It was in a Chicago hotel room three years ago that the architect of America’s Olympic basketball team realized that things had begun to change.

Athens 2004 had been a disaster. Many of America’s best players had declined to play and the team cobbled together at the last minute lost three times on the way to a bronze medal.

The “Dream Team” years were over, it seemed.

Yet there was All-Star Michael Redd, driving several hours to talk to the managing director of the men’s national team, Jerry Colangelo, in his Chicago hotel room. Redd arrived in sweats, disappeared into the bathroom, and emerged in a suit.

“I wanted to respect why he was coming,” said Redd at a pre-Olympic media event. “I truly viewed it as an interview.”

It is a snapshot of what has again made America the dominating force in men’s Olympic basketball: pride, dedication, respect. This is the “Redeem Team.”

Wednesday night in Beijing, the US will face Australia in the quarterfinals. In winning its five opening-round games, the US outscored its opponents by an average of 32.2 points per game.

It defeated 2004 silver medalists Greece by 23, world champions Spain by 37.

One British oddsmaker has listed them as 80-to-1 favorites to win gold.


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