LONDON (USA TODAY) - All the angst and melodramatic analysis of the U.S. men's basketball team's perceived inadequacies - primarily its lack of size - turned out to be pointless, more or less.
For whatever the U.S. missed in size at the London Olympics, it compensated for with overwhelming talent. Which is a good thing because they had some anxious moments in Sunday's gold medal game.
Against the one team - Spain -where size may have played a factor, the U.S. could not do what it had done so often in the tournament, pull away quarter by quarter, until there was no doubt who the best team in the world is.
There may still be no doubt of that after the Americans 107-100 victory at North Greenwich Arena, but Team USA's second consecutive gold medal game win over Spain was hardly a leisurely ride down the adjacent River Thames. The Americans led by one at the half, trailed briefly in the third quarter and never really had a comfortable margin.
As good as Spain is with Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez, Juan Carlos Navarro and Serge Ibaka - all either current or former NBA players - when the U.S. replaces All-Star with All-Star, it wears down an opponent. It might be possible to stop one star. But to stop one after another after another?
The U.S. has won 14 of the 16 gold-medal games in which it has played and is now 130-5 in Olympic games. The U.S. has now won 17 consecutive Olympics games and furthered distanced itself from the bronze-medal debacle at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Not coincidentally, the U.S. turnaround in this decade began when Jerry Colangelo took over as USA Basketball's chairman in 2005, stabilizing the program by naming Mike Krzyzewski coach and securing long-term commitment from the USA's best NBA players.
The ability of James, Chris Paul and Deron Williams to create open shots for themselves and others, namely Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant - made it near impossible for an opponent to stop the U.S. from scoring.
While the rest of the world has closed the gap in 20 years since the 1992 Dream Team at the Barcelona, James, Bryant, Anthony, Durant, Deron Williams, Chris Paul and the rest ensured the world lags behind. With Colangelo's leadership, the U.S. is in outstanding shape headed into the 2014 World Cup in Spain and the 2016 Rio Olympics, especially given the tentative plan not to make the competition 23-and-under for Rio.
FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann said, "It would probably be premature right now ...... to make any changes in the Olympic program.
"The feeling is that we will not be proposing an under-23 for 2016."
That sounds good to NBA players, such as Bryant, James and Durant, who have bought in to the USA Basketball do not want to see an age limit.
Earlier Sunday, Russia beat Argentina 81-77 for the bronze medal. It was the Russians' first Olympic basketball medal since 1988 when the Soviet Union won gold. That was the last Olympics before professional basketball players were allowed to compete.