On August 12, 2012, Team USA faced Spain for Olympic gold in a rematch of the 2008 ultimate showdown.
Behind 30 points from Kevin Durant and double-digit efforts via LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul, the Americans outlasted the pesky Spaniards, 107-100, in secure a straight-straight gold medal for Team USA.
The game was much closer than expected, though. The Olympics’ own preview for the matchup stated that it would “likely take a great game from Spain and an off-day from the USA to cause an upset.” Yet, Spain kept it close throughout the game, even taking a 71-70 lead midway through the third quarter. As the fourth quarter began, Team USA narrowly held the advantage, 83-82.
A surge in the final period put the Americans ahead for good, but that didn’t take away from how close Spain truly got to taking gold from them. Now that we’re nearly a decade on, let’s take look back and reflect on the game.
Reactions to Team USA Beating Spain for Gold
“During the 2012 Games in London, the American team average margin of victory was 32.1 points a game. Team USA withstood a challenge from Lithuania during pool play. Entering the fourth quarter of that game, Team USA trailed 82-80. But LeBron James scored nine of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to help the U.S. to a hard fought 99-94 victory.
The Gold Medal game against Spain was no easy task for the Americans. The game featured 16 lead changes and six tie games, but Kevin Durant led a balanced attack with 30 points to help the Americans earn a 107-100 victory in a rematch of the 2008 Final.” – NBA.com
“Kevin Durant scored 30 points to lead the USA, while LeBron James had 19 and Kobe Bryant 17 as the USA ran out 107-100 winners in front of the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Boris Johnson, David Beckham and Henry Kissinger. It was the closest basketball final since the USSR beat the USA 51-50, 40 years ago.” – Olympic.org
“In the end, the United States men’s basketball team wouldn’t be denied the gold medal. But Pau Gasol and Spain’s national team made sure that the traveling troupe of NBA All-Stars with USA emblazoned across its jerseys had to sweat it out until the very, very end.
In a taut, physical affair that evoked the thriller played between these two teams in 2008, USA basketball held off Spain, 107-100, to capture the gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics.
With Spain having closed within six points deep into the fourth quarter, LeBron James reeled off five straight points on a three-point shot and a driving right-handed slam dunk to propel the U.S. to victory and its second straight gold medal.” – Chris Greenberg, Huffpost.com
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We didn’t want it easy. A lot of teams have won gold easy. We didn’t want it that way. We’re a competitive team, and we love when it gets tight. That’s when our will and determination kind of shows. It was the same way in ’08.” – LeBron James
“The London 2012 daily magazine proclaimed them ‘the new Dream Team’ in an article, but the real Dream Team never had a game like this 20 years ago in Barcelona. And if that means this group isn’t worthy of the comparisons to Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Co., the players had their own response.
‘Everybody wants to make that comparison, but at the end of the day we’re both wearing these,’ forward Kevin Love said, pulling on his gold medal. ‘That’s pretty good.'” – Associated Press
“It was a good year. It was a great year for me as an individual. 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.” – James
“We were close. But you almost have to play the perfect game to beat them.” – Pau Gasol
“I am disappointed, but on the other side I’m very proud how of the we (sic) competed, how we played. We fought for 40 minutes. I am proud of having another Olympic medal around my neck.
It’s disappointing because I thought we had our chance. We were right there pretty much the entire game. We let them get away in the fourth and we couldn’t get back.” – Gasol
“The Americans hugged at midcourt, guard James Harden holding a doll of the Olympic mascot, and then after being handed flags, this group of NBA players – and one kid just out of college – who grew into a tight-knit group during their time together, paraded around the floor, the Stars and Stripes flowing off their backs like capes.
Yes, they were Olympic superheroes again, but they had to fight until the finish.
‘To do it twice is a special moment.,” Carmelo Anthony said. “As the U.S. men’s team, we go through a lot. For us to persevere the way we did is just a special moment for myself, and for the guys who are on this team.'” – AP
“The Americans stood together on the highest platform, in the same place everyone but Spain figured they would stand Sunday afternoon. An official hung gold medals around their necks, and in that moment, the favorites, a collection of basketball millionaires, reverted to childhood.
Kevin Love tossed up a ‘hang loose’ sign. Anthony Davis raised his hand as if someone were taking attendance for the medal ceremony. Kobe Bryant went with the double fist pump.
The most emotion, though, came from the least expected source. It came from Coach Mike Krzyzewski, a West Point graduate for whom stoic is an understatement. Krzyzewski, who silenced a roomful of supporters who clapped for him at a team dinner Friday, jumped up and down, up and down, as if attempting a record in the vertical leap.” – Greg Bishop, The New York Times
“When I was hearing the national anthem, it felt like someone was pouring hot water down my back. Just chills going down my spine.” – Tyson Chandler
“This is it for me. The other guys are good to go.” – Kobe Bryant
“We came through from the beginning of July and work hard for one goal and I’m glad I accomplished it.” – Kevin Durant