Olympics 2016: is NBA’s Dream Team legacy over?

The 2016 Men’s Olympics Basketball Team has officially released its roster, one that the nation isn’t accustomed to seeing – certainly not the legendary, hall of fame player line-up during the “Dream Team” era.  This year, more NBA superstars have decided to skip out on the Games than ever before, and may be a product of the all the reports of health risks in travel to Brazil; with concerns of illnesses like the “Zika virus”, the 2016 Olympics are literally scaring away athletes.

While the roster set out for Rio features a few A-list headliners: Kevin Durant, George Paul, and Carmelo Anthony – who has won two gold medals and a bronze in his Olympic experience, Team USA is nowhere near it’s identity as the “Dream Team”, with the numerous amount of superstars who has passed on this years’ Olympics. Several NBA superstars have decided not to make the daunting journey over to Rio: LeBron James, James Harden, Steph Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and you can also count out Blake Griffin, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Damian Lillard decided to withdraw last minute.

Who could blame them right?

There is no shame to players skipping out on the Games if they have to be susceptible to the health risks in Rio, as a nation we cannot expect these superstars to just brush something as serious as the Zika Virus off their shoulders.

On a positive note, Team USA does feature over nine NBA All-Stars: DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, DeAndre Jordan, DeMar DeRozan, Kyrie Irving, and Harrison Barnes. USA will also be led by three of Golden State’s superstar-caliber players from Golden State.

Often us USA basketball fans have been spoiled for having such high expectations, especially with the abundance of talent the international team has had for years; the 1992 Dream Team set forth our high pedestal of expectation in USA basketball, routing teams with an average of 44 points. The Dream Team featured some of the greatest players to ever embrace the game; with names like Jordan, Bird, Johnson, Barkley, Mullin, Malone, Drexler, no wonder us fans view this Olympic roster much differently than we are accustomed to seeing.

Fans of USA basketball not only expect the team to leave the competition with a Gold medal, but also to dominate everyone in a record-breaking fashion. The  ominance as expected, had continued with the names like: LeBron, Kobe, Westbrook, Carmelo, Durant, Harden, Paul, Davis, Love, and other handful of NBA superstars during the modern era of the Dream Team in 2008-2012.

Being accustomed to such dominance over the years, it is no wonder why fans are anything but pleased with the present 2016 Olympics Men’s Basketball roster. It will be an interesting level of expectation for the team this year; Team USA should still be favored to win this year’s international competition, but the question is how convincingly will they win.

Perhaps it will be the 2016 Underdogs to be more of a headline this summer for USA Basketball, because the identity of the Dream Team appears to be an ending legacy. With more and more superstar athletes dropping out of international competition, is it fair to question if the Olympic generation is trending behind us?

Photo by kris krüg from Vancouver, Canada [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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