Despite some key injuries to the U.S. Men's National Basketball Team, the red, white and blue remain the overwhelming favorites to win the gold medal at the London Olympics.
The debate as to how this U.S. squad matches up with the 1992 Dream Team continues to dominate many headlines. The current squad, however, may not have quite the cake walk that the 1992 squad had in Barcelona, as foreign players continue to make strides.
Spain boasts a pair of quality big men as brothers Pau and Marc Gasol, along with forward Serge Ibaka, have proven their worth in the NBA. Meanwhile, the Spurs backcourt of Manu Ginobli, of Argentina, and Tony Parker, of France, lead their respective nations with a solid roster.
Team USA will be taking orders from Mike Krzyzewski, who is perhaps the most respected college basketball coach in the game. He won a gold medal with the team in Beijing in 2008, and knows the importance of the transition from NBA-season play to Olympic competition.
How we navigate going from that season to the Olympics will be a really important thing for us to do, Krzyzewski said. And if we navigate it well, then we'll have a real good chance at winning it.
This is especially true considering the condensed NBA season due to the lockout, as well as the fact that nine of the 12 roster players played in the postseason, with four members competing in the NBA Finals.
Team USA could breeze through the preliminary rounds even with injuries to four key players. Five players return from the gold medal squad in 2008: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams. The quintet is expected to provide exceptional leadership for the majority of young players making their Olympic debut.
On the prospect of actually losing a game, Anthony offered a cynical perspective.
They got to get the ratings up, don't they? said Anthony. They got to ask something, it can't all be good things. Then turning serious, he added: If we go out there and do what we have to do, and prepare for this Olympics like we did in '08, we'll be fine.
Anthony and James were on the 2004 squad that failed to earn a gold medal. There might be added pressure on the duo to avoid the same outcome in Greece.
Meanwhile, Bryant has boasted that the 2012 team was better than the 1992 team, setting off a firestorm of discussions. Even President Obama weighed in on Bryant's comments.
You know, Kobe's a competitor, so you expect him to do a little trash talking whenever the opportunity arises, said Obama.
In the London Games, Team USA will have the services of Kevin Durant, who shined in the 2010 FIBA World Championship. Durant earned the Most Valuable Player Award, and is coming off an excellent season with the Oklahoma Thunder.
Team USA is indeed stacked with talent. The question that could plague them is whether they will show the dominance of the 1992 squad or the lackluster effort of the 2004 team that took home the bronze.