Classic Finals: Spain have 'second Dream Team' on the ropes

Kevin Durant #5 and team mate LeBron James #6 of the United States celebrate in the Men's Basketball gold medal game against Spain at the London 2012 Olympics Games (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Kevin Durant #5 and team mate LeBron James #6 of the United States celebrate in the Men's Basketball gold medal game against Spain at the London 2012 Olympics Games (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The history of the Olympic Games is full of dramatic, emotional and beautiful moments that took place in finals. Every week, relive the most incredible finals you can remember on video. This week, we look at the London 2012 men's basketball final.

The deets

  • Men's basketball final, London 2012 Olympic Games
  • North Greenwich Arena, 12 August 2012
  • USA vs Spain

The background

The teams facing off against each other in London 2012's men's basketball final both had a long tradition of success. Spain had won two Olympic silver medals in 1984 and 2008, while the USA were the undoubted basketball kings, having accumulated 13 gold medals by the time the match took place.

On this occasion, both teams were showing the kind of form that drew comparisons with previous illustrious generations. The USA had been compared to the Dream Team that won gold in Barcelona. On their way to the 2012 final, they had an average winning margin of 36 points, making them solid favourites for gold. But a win for the USA would dash the hopes of the Spanish team and leave them falling at the last hurdle....for the third time in history.

So there they were. Two teams chasing Olympic glory. Two teams with legends on the court.

Team USA: Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, Andre Iguodala, James Harden, Kevin Durant, LeBron James (who became the first American to rack up a triple double in the Olympics in the quarter final against Australia), Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Anthony Davis and Tyson Chandler.

Spain: Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, José Manuel Calderón, Rudy Fernández, Felipe Reyes, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Sergio Llull, Fernando San Emeterio, Víctor Claver, Víctor Sada and Sergio Rodríguez.

Which stars do you think shone brighter?

Key moment

From the very first moment, Spain had the USA on the back foot, making them work for every point. Juan Carlos Navarro had begun the game with three consecutive three-pointers. This was the first warning sign for the USA. On 12 August 2012, they were up against an outstanding rival. However things didn't all go Spain's way. Team USA scored seven three-pointers in the first 10 minutes.

Pau Gasol was another player who made things difficult for the 'second Dream Team', ending the game as the second highest scorer with 24 points. However, the game's highest scorer was Kevin Durant with 30 points, who became only the second player in history to score 30 in an Olympic final.

Despite the efforts of Spain, the USA are perennial champions for a reason. Spain could only score more points than them in the second quarter (24-31), although they did lead the match at one point following a three-pointer by Sergio Rodríguez that took the game to 37-39. But by the time the second half began, Team USA had begun to take control, racking up an eight point lead to make the scores 59-51. The third quarter saw both teams score 24 points, which didn't help the Spanish cause.

The final quarter was all about the USA who ended the match with a 107-100 victory. They had captured the most important medal one more time, as their never-ending golden story continued.

Men’s Basketball Final, London 2012
52:00

The outcome

Eventually Team USA won the match with the closest finish in 40 years. For some, it is considered the best Olympic basketball final in history.

Both teams are still aiming for the gold medal at Tokyo 2020. At Rio 2016, Team USA won another gold medal, while Spain finished in third place, continuing their love affair with the podium.

Since then, many of the stars of the final continue to compete. Team USA still count LeBron James among their list of 44 finalists for the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team for Tokyo 2020. And on the Spanish side, Pau Gasol, who is currently returning from injury and hopes to be at Tokyo 2020, still leads the team.