The United States Men’s Olympic Basketball Team has seen plenty of turnover over the years. With the 2016 Olympics in Rio, the U.S. is sending its most inexperienced team ever. To get a sense of how the landscape has changed, we can look back at the previous Olympics. Enter, the great Michael Jordan, who finished his Olympic career with a gold medal in 1992, and a bronze in 1996.
The United States men’s basketball team earned a spot at the 2016 Summer Olympics by finishing as the No. 2 overall seed. Many of the team’s members are familiar faces from the NBA Development League, with names like Holiday and Middleton. Other than Jordan, the only other Americans to play in the Olympics are Dream Team members Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
The United States Men’s Olympic Basketball Team is an elite squad that is a favorite to win gold in Rio in August. But behind those storied names are some equally impressive and lesser known names. The eight players on the roster—Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, DeAndre Jordan, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Bradley Beal, Paul George and Draymond Green—are the only players to have been on the Olympic Team in the past two Olympic games, and have gone on to be All-Stars in the NBA and an NBA Champion.
After defeating Spain 87-82 in the final, the USA Men’s Basketball Team earned Olympic Gold in the 2020 Tokyo Games. Team USA was led by Kevin Durant, who had a game-high 29 points. He may have reinforced the idea that he is now the best player in the planet.
However, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, two of his colleagues, helped the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference Semifinals this year, advancing to the NBA Finals. Milwaukee’s spark was Giannis Antetokoummpo, but Holiday and Middleton were important members of the Bucks’ championship squad.
Holiday and Middleton now have gold medals to add to Milwaukee’s NBA championship trophy. In the process, the two become part of an exclusive club of American basketball players, which includes Michael Jeffrey Jordan.
Holiday and Middleton were instrumental in Team USA’s gold-medal success.
Team USA’s Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton receive gold medals during the Men’s Basketball medal presentation at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Getty Images/Kevin C. Cox
Holiday and Middleton made an instant impact after joining the club in Tokyo (along with Phoenix Suns player Devin Booker). In the gold medal game, Holiday started and played 30 minutes, second only to Durant. According to ESPN, he scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds, but he also had three thefts and a block, which is characteristic of Holiday.
Middleton scored four points in 11 minutes off the bench.
According to USA Basketball, Holiday averaged 12 points per game and had 10 steals and five blocks throughout the tournament. As soon as he landed in Tokyo, he began all five games.
In winning an NBA Championship and an Olympic gold medal in the same year, Holiday and Middleton join Michael Jordan and three other all-time greats.
Holiday and Middleton are the only players in NBA history to win an NBA Championship and a gold medal in the same year, joining Jordan, LeBron James, Scottie Pippen, and Kyrie Irving. According to NBA.com, they are the only teammates to achieve the accomplishment since Jordan and Pippen on the Dream Team.
Holiday isn’t even the first member from his family to win an Olympic medal. Lauren Holiday, his wife, was a part of the gold-medal-winning USA Women’s soccer teams in 2008 and 2012.
Holiday and Middleton had a good two-and-a-half weeks together.
Olympic gold medalists Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton.
They won the NBA title only 17 days ago, on July 20, 2021. https://t.co/wh4QkaqR88
August 7, 2021 — Eric Nehm (@eric nehm)
On Tuesday, July 20, the Bucks were awarded the Larry O’Brien Trophy. On August 6, Team USA won the gold medal. Within 17 days, Holiday and Middleton had achieved the pinnacles of their respective sports.
All that’s left now is to win another NBA championship in 2022 and another Olympic gold medal in 2024.
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