Most basketball experts agree that this Team USA squad has been disappointing in their performance, but if they win gold, it will still mean a lot for the players on the team. Every member of Team USA says it's a special experience that they'll never forget. It also can help players' Hall of Fame candidacy. Carmelo Anthony, for example, is likely a lock for the Hall of Fame given that he will in all likelihood finish with three gold medals.
"I think they're above NBA rings," Jordan told ESPN of the gold medal USA Basketball is chasing here in Rio entering Wednesday night's quarterfinal game against Argentina.
"I may get in trouble for saying that, but I believe that. I feel like this is more special. You're not just playing teams in the U.S. You're playing teams from all over the world. And this is even more special because there's an NBA champion crowned every year, but this is every four years.
"You've got to really think about that, man, because it's extremely special."
You can see why he says this, and it is a special experience, to be sure. Representing your country, on the biggest stage, with all the pageantry and pride that goes into it? It's a totally different feeling.
- The Olympics may be about teams from all over the world, but they're still all teams thrown together with the best talent on short practice trying to find a way to win. These aren't teams with chemistry and precision in their roster construction. These teams are built to be the best they have to offer in a short time, not the best team they can construct under a system or design. Let me put it this way. Team USA is stocked with All-Stars, but you'd have to put the Warriors as a significant favorite over them, this year or last. Granted, that's in part because of the absence of LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, and others, but the fact remains that the Warriors play their best together. The same can't be said for these other teams.
- There's still a monstrous gap between Team USA and the majority of the world. Australia, Serbia, and France might be within range of Team USA this year, but there's a reason it would be such a huge upset if Team USA were to lose. The NBA is still where the best talent is, the best teams, and if you look at the bench units for any of those squads, you'll get what I mean.
- It's hard to see any NBA champion giving up his title ring for a gold medal, unless he has more than one. You don't see a lot of tears after winning a gold medal, you see waterworks after NBA titles. In part, that's because of how much harder it is to get through a full 82-game season, then the playoffs, then the Finals. It's harder, and that makes it matter more.
But that's just one perspective. Jordan is an NBA player, and he says the gold medal would mean more to him. That's also just really cool, to see a player who sees his Olympic play as this important.