USA HOOPS:<br />
As Good as Gold!

USA Men's Basketball team pose on the podium during the medal Ceremony.

Kevin Durant led the 2012 U.S. Men’s Basketball Team to a gold medal to close the Olympic Games, with a 107-100 defeat of Spain.  LeBron James chipped in with 19 points and seven rebounds, while Kobe Bryant added 17 points, as Team USA fought off a very tough opponent. Spain’s NBA-heavy roster was led by the Gasol Brothers, Pau and Mark, who poured in a combined 41 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Juan Carlos Navarro added 21 points, including four three pointers, en route to Spain’s second straight Olympic silver medal.

The victory for Team USA was the 14th Gold Medal in US Men’s Basketball history and seemingly the last for Coach K, who announced that he’s retiring as the national team’s head coach. After restoring the glory to US basketball, Duke University’s head coach will be exiting on a very high note, along with Kobe Bryant. “This is it for me,” said Bryant, who has won two Olympic gold medals. “These other guys are good to go.” If Kevin Durant’s scoring outburst is any indication of where US hoops are headed, Kobe is right. Durant set an Olympic record with 156 total points scored in a single tournament. The 2012 NBA scoring champ wasn’t the only member of Team USA that seemed to be in a zone, as his teammate Carmelo Anthony was also playing on a different level. En route to the gold medal, Team USA crushed Nigeria by 83 points on a scoring barrage led by Melo’s US record 37 points. The Knicks team captain tallied 130 total points and shot a blistering 50% from three-point territory. If the results of the 2012 Olympics have any carry-over for KD or Melo, the fans in OKC and New York have a great season of NBA basketball to look forward to.

Unfortunately for the two scoring stars, they’ll have to wait until 2016 to put together a season of basketball similar to LeBron James. The King managed to land in the record books on multiple occasions throughout his Olympic run. James recorded the first ever Olympic triple-double in a 33-point blowout of Argentina, with 30 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists. The 27-year-old also became the second player since Michael Jordan to be named NBA MVP, Finals MVP, NBA Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist in the same season. "It was a good year. It was a great year for me as an individual," James said. "But this right here, it means more than myself, it means more than my name on my back. It means everything to the name on the front. I'm happy that I was able to contribute to this great team. It's one of the best teams ever."

Statistically speaking, 2012 may not have measured up to their predecessors of twenty years past, but their dream resulted in the same reality: a gold medal is returning to the United States of America.

Steve Rivers has contributed to The Source, ESPN Rise and a host of other online publications. Follow him on Twitter: @TheKidSkoob.