All basketball fans are aware that the 2004 Summer Olympic Games are the black mark on an otherwise perfect resume for Team USA Basketball since professional athletes were allowed to play in the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona.
The 2004 team was a train wreck from the beginning, a classic Greek tragedy if you will (the games were in Athens) as the team sorely lacked veteran leadership and did not get along whatsoever with Head Coach and infamously stringent Larry Brown.
The previously unbeaten Team USA Basketball in the previous three Olympic games lost three times in the tournament and lost to a Manu Ginobili-led Argentina team in the semi-final before beating Lithuania to win the Bronze medal.
Brown’s condescension and uptight nature did not vibe with Stephon Marbury, who told Complex Writer Wallace Matthews that the Olympic experience was the worst of his life.
Here is the excerpt from the Complex piece:
Marbury says that on the first day of Olympics practice, Brown asked his players—a group that included LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson – to state their goals for the tournament.
“By the time he got to me, everything was said that needed to be said,’’ Marbury says. “So I said, ‘Let’s also not forget that we need to have fun.’ And Larry goes, ‘Huh. Listen to this guy, talking about having fun!’’’
Marbury was stung and embarrassed by Brown’s condescension. He calls the Olympic experience, “The worst 38 days of my life.’’
Marbury then goes on to say that he begged Isiah Thomas not to hire Larry Brown to be the Knicks head coach as he did a year later in 2005. Marbury said that being coached by Larry Brown in New York was the worst year of his life.
“I begged Isiah not to bring him to the Knicks,” he told Matthews. “It was just unbearable, man. Nobody wanted to play for him. The whole energy was terrible. But it was the environment he wanted. Misery.”
Translation: Stephon Marbury really doesn’t like Larry Brown. I am sure the feeling is mutual.
The story goes on to talk about his NBA career unraveling and his rebirth as a player and person in China. It is a pretty good piece that talks about Marbury’s transformation.
I am waiting for a 30 For 30 documentary on the disaster that was the 2004 Team USA Men’s Basketball Team, that would be a must-watch.