Who played for 'The Redeem Team' in 2008 Olympics? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The 2008 U.S. men's basketball team was out for revenge when they came together for the Beijing Olympics. After completing a disappointing bronze finish in Athens, the world wanted only one thing: Olympic gold back on U.S. soil. But getting back to the winning Olympic culture would prove to be a challenging task. It would take a lot more than just 12 NBA stars playing together to get that redemptive gold win.
With Netflix’s “The Redeem Team” documentary premiering on Oct. 7, fans are looking to bring themselves up to speed on all things Redeem Team related. So, here's a look at all it took for the U.S. men's basketball team to win gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics:
Jerry Colangelo, Team USA program director
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When Jerry Colangelo was asked to join Team USA in the summer of 2005, he would turn out to be the first domino in a ripple effect that would turn magical. Colangelo was named the director of USA Basketball, whose team represented the United States in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Colangelo has been a big part of basketball history throughout the years. He was a part of a startup project that would turn into the legendary Chicago Bulls. While there, he served as a marketing director, scout and assistant to the president of the team in 1966. Colangelo then turned his eyes to Arizona, where he became the youngest general manager in professional sports with the expansion Phoenix Suns.
When he decided to sell the Suns in 2004, Colangelo was ready to make another groundbreaking move, and a few weeks later he received the USA Basketball call. He accepted and decided that if he would do it, he had to be in complete control, eliminating the Olympics committee and preparing to take Team USA to the next level. And he did just that.
Mike "Coach K" Krzyzewski, Team USA Head Coach
Former NBA coach Larry Brown was the head coach of Team USA during the 2004 Athens Games. When Colangelo came on board as the program director, he began to revamp USA Basketball and his first major move was hiring Duke's Hall of Fame coach, Mike Krzyzewski, to lead the front for the upcoming Games.
While Krzyzewski was established during his time as the Duke Blue Devils head coach, he would have to learn to coach a group of professional NBA stars. Coach K was told that he wouldn't only be the Olympic coach, but he would be the national coach. That was the first step in establishing one sole coach that would run the Olympic program for four consecutive years.
Krzyzewski went on to create a collaborative team atmosphere within the group and gained the respect and trust of the team. Team USA was almost untouchable under Coach K’s leadership.
Team USA roster
One of the biggest differences between the 2008 Beijing group and the 2004 Athens group was the roster. The only remaining players from the 2004 were LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Carlos Boozer. Here’s a look at the full 2008 Redeem Team roster and the teams they played for in 2008:
- Carlos Boozer, Utah Jazz
- Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks
- LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Deron Williams, Utah Jazz
- Michael Redd, Milwaukee Bucks
- Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
- Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
- Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
- Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors
- Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
- Tayshaun Prince, Detroit Pistons
- Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
The 2008 roster's average age was 26.0 years old, which was among the youngest U.S. Olympic team of NBA players to win gold. Of the seven U.S. Olympic teams that were formed with professional NBA players since 1992, only the 2012 team, which averaged 25.8 years old, was younger.
Another major addition to the 2008 team was a Lakers legend, the late Kobe Bryant. He made his Olympic basketball debut for the Beijing Games in 2008, and many people believed he was the missing link that helped bring gold back to the U.S.
Bryant was chosen to be the captain of the Redeem Team and he led the charge alongside James and Coach K. The five-time NBA champion started in all eight games during the 2008 Beijing run and averaged 23.5 minutes, 15.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists a game. He also shot 46.2% from the field, 32.1% from 3-point and 58.3% from the foul line.
He even returned to the Olympic stage for the 2012 London Games where the U.S. brought home gold once more.