Welcome to “The Big Three-Oh!” I’m turning 30 at the end of July and to celebrate, I am counting down my best/favorite sports moments in my lifetime. If you missed the kickoff post, check it out for the background for the series. Closing out week two of this list is a moment I’ve mentioned in some other patriotic entries on the list. It is the first moment from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a legacy still felt for every Olympics since then.
#17 — The Redeem Team
Similar to what I wrote about the US Women’s Hockey team in 2018 and the US Ryder in 2016, the 2008 “Redeem Team” accomplished just that: redemption. In 2004, the USA was upset in the semifinals after years of dominance and hubris. Similarly to post-2014 Ryder Cup in golf, USA Basketball sprung into action to rebuild how the team was constructed. Rather than just a collection of the NBA’s best players, the idea was to create the USA’s best possible team.
The 2000s saw a meteoric rise of stellar non-American basketball players in the NBA and the Redeem Team led off the Olympic tournament facing off with the host nation and maybe one of the best-known non-Americans: Yao Ming and the Chinese. I remember sitting in my grandparents’ cottage in Michigan watching this game. ‘Roundball Rock’ made its glorious return to television since NBC broadcasts the Olympic games and a Nike commercial featuring Marvin Gaye singing the national anthem flooded every TV timeout.
To be honest, trying to give actual blow-by-blows of every game would be tough because the USA went 8-0 en route to winning gold and the only game of note really was the Gold Medal Game against Spain. I remember staying up to watch it because it aired in the middle of the night, similarly to the 2018 Women’s Hockey Gold Medal Game. The US won their first six games by over 30 points per game with the semis against eventual the Bronze Medal-winning Argentines being a 20-point margin of victory. The Spanish wouldn’t go down without a fight in the Gold Medal Game but the Americans had come too far to give in. The Gold Medal came back to the USA.
You may be asking yourself why does a USA Gold Medal rank higher than the Women’s Hockey Team or Ryder Cup since, as I’ve mentioned, I didn’t play basketball and the fact that hockey and golf are two of my favorite sports. It goes back part of why I included MJ’s first return in that entry. There are a lot of great sports moments that happened in the first half of the 90s that I was a baby for, and thus, didn’t truly get to experience it. Like any sports fan, American or otherwise, I get fired up for the Olympics every two years when the games come back around–I love both the Summer and Winter games equally. Forever, I heard about the Dream Team and how incredible the 1992 games in Barcelona were. I remember watching the basketball teams at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney but it wasn’t the main sport I looked out for as MJ was retired and Allen Iverson wasn’t on the team. In 2004, I was a much bigger basketball fan in general so I knew more players in the lineup than just AI so when they lost, I remember being devastated. Michael Phelps distracted me from the basketball team’s shaky group play but that loss to Argentina and Iverson slamming the ball are firmly engraved in my brain. 2008 was my first experience with the redemption of an American team at the Olympics and for that, it grabs a spot firmly in the middle of the list.
Today’s Instaram Athlete
Nine years ago to count down the days until my 21st birthday, I posted a picture of athletes wearing the cooresponding number of day left to Facebook. While I did not have an Instagram account back in 2011, I have one now so I’ll be revisiting this idea in conjuncture with Top 30 Sports Moments. FOLLOW MY INSTAGRAM SO YOU DON’T MISS IT
I almost went with Magento Rhys but instead, I went with Magnum Rhys as the picture. Rhys Hoskins comes in for #17 replacing Rod Brind’Amour from nine years ago. Hoskins quite literally burst onto the scene in 2017 to become the talk of the town during an otherwise down year for the Phillies. He and Aaron Nola then helped the Phils battle through the 2018 season that ultimately fell short. Rhys’ run in the Home Run Derby against future teammate Bryce Harper helped cement his place as a fan favorite. 2019 may have seen some struggles but #struggle may as well have replaced #RingTheBell as the 2019 Phillies’ official hashtag. With baseball coming back on my birthday, I had to include one of my favorite Phillies on the list.Follow @geordo9