In addition to James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul came up huge on Sunday.
Durant scored 30 points and grabbed nine rebounds. With the U.S. leading by just one point with 9:25 to go, Paul hit a three-pointer and layup to make it 90-84. Kobe Bryant added 17 in the matchup against his Los Angeles Lakers teammate Gasol, who led Spain with 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Juan-Carlos Navarro added 21 for Spain and Marc Gasol had 17.
“The closer the game got, the more intense and focused we got,’’ said Bryant. “We did a great job battling Spain, particularly with their size advantage. This is a huge accomplishment.’’
Russia won the bronze medal with a 81-77 win over Argentina.
“A lot of people doubted us, said we’re too small, couldn’t compete with the size of other teams,’’ James said. “But it’s not about size, it’s about heart. The heart comes through and I’m happy we’ve got a bunch of big hearts on this team. We didn’t take anything for granted. We represented our country in the right way…(In ’04) we didn’t understand. We thought we just pull on a uniform, get together two or three weeks and go out there and win because we had so many great individuals. Eight years later, we have two gold medals and a world title. It feels great.’’
Colangelo said James and Anthony, the two holdovers from that ’04 team, should be particularly proud of this medal.
"The fact that they redeemed themselves when you think about '04, the guys that were on that team in Athens who probably shouldn't have been there, they were there by default after a lot of our players fell out and we had a bunch of kids there,’’ he said. “They were not quite ready and they had not deserved it yet but now, with a couple of gold medals to go along with all their other accomplishments, they feel pretty good."