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LeBron James believes 2004 Olympic team didn’t have the proper discipline

Team USA, LeBron James

At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Team USA was looking to carry on their long-standing tradition of claiming gold medals. However, the American side was only able to manage a bronze finish. Several factors played into this outcome, including what LeBron James labeled a lack of discipline.

Via ESPN:

LeBron James, 2004 Team USA forward: We didn’t have the discipline, we didn’t have the structure to be able to play on a world stage. We had great basketball players but we didn’t have the structure, and I think that’s part of why we finished third.

Several notable NBA players decided to withdraw from the 2004 Olympics due to safety concerns after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Head coach Larry Brown and lead assistant Gregg Popovich still had a solid squad, though, with Tim Duncan serving as captain. Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury were also on the roster, but due to the number of players that withdrew, Team USA had to call up three guys who were coming off their rookie seasons: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony.

Team USA lost three games at the 2004 Olympics, which was the most ever by a USA men’s Olympic basketball team. One of those losses — a 92-73 defeat at the hands of Puerto Rico — was the biggest loss in a game in the team’s history.

Strangely, Brown didn’t give James, Wade and Anthony much playing time, a fact that Iverson lamented to ESPN:

Iverson: LeBron James might’ve played five minutes a game, Carmelo might’ve played five minutes a game. It’s just a whole bunch of things. I mean, it just wasn’t meant to be. It’s simple as that. The talent was there — it just didn’t happen.

Though they were defeated in 2004, James and The Redeem Team went on to claim the gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Team USA also won gold in 2012 and 2016.