SAITAMA, Japan -- Nothing about the summer was easy for the U.S. men’s basketball team, and neither was the gold-medal game.
The Americans expected nothing less. And in the end, their Olympic reign continues.
Kevin Durant scored 29 points and joined Carmelo Anthony as the only three-time men’s gold medalists in Olympic history, Jayson Tatum added 19 and the U.S. held off France 87-82 on Saturday to win the title at the Tokyo Games.
It was the fourth consecutive gold medal for the Americans and their 16th title in 19 Olympic appearances.
EXPLAINER: What's next for the USA Basketball men's program
For USA Basketball’s men’s national team, the next item on the to-do list isn’t the 2024 Paris Olympics.
It’s not even the 2023 World Cup, which will end in the Philippines. It’s a qualifying tournament, in about three months.
The Olympics are supposed to be a four-year cycle in normal times, which has given USA Basketball ample opportunity in the past to catch its breath. These are not normal times.
The cycle between Tokyo and Paris is just three years because of the delay caused by the pandemic, and that means the road toward the 2024 Games is starting much faster than usual.