How “happiness” led Argentina to the Olympic Gold medal in 2004
The basketball team that Argentina sent to the 2004 Athens Olympics weren’t the favorites to win the Gold medal that year, but they did, beating Italy 84-69.
It was the peak of the nation’s popular “Golden Era” in basketball. While the Argentines stood proud in front of the whole world after making an indelible mark in basketball history, the Americans suffered a harsh reality check.
In Bill Leopold and Ben Teitelbaum’s article for NBCOlympics.com, Argentina’s secret to success was recognized by some of the personalities from their side and the United States’.
Here’s former NBA commissioner David Stern‘s take on their magnificent run:
Whenever you don’t win it is a failure, but I was admiring Argentina. It was actually quite moving to see them singing and dancing, kissing. It was just basketball exuberance for a group of players who was playing together since they were 12 years old.
These teammates played together since they were teenagers, and to make it to the Olympic team, then winning an Olympic medal, was a lifetime accomplishment, according to the Brooklyn Nets‘ Luis Scola.
We were playing together since we were 15, 16 years old. And we moved through the ladder and we get through the stages and we end up winning the gold medal. To be honest, if you asked me or anybody around the world in ‘99 that five years after, we were going to do what we did, everybody would laugh at you.
But because of these strong relationships built from playing beforehand, they were happy to play with each other, and for their country, per former NBA champion, Fabricio Oberto.
It’s different when you get to go to the national team and build a solid unit. Like Manu [Ginóbili] sometimes was taking two shots a game and he was the happiest man. Maybe I didn’t take a shot all game and I was happy. We just enjoyed being with each other.
With everyone being so happy and glad just to be with each other, maybe that’s how they won: strong chemistry. Those relationships created a special bond between those teammates, and they trusted each other enough to make the right plays, and to come together and go all in and win a gold medal.