From the thrilling Opening Ceremony to Michael Phelps’ iconic eight gold medals, the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 were truly unforgettable. Relive the 10-year anniversary of the Games through Aug. 24 as TeamUSA.org recaps the daily highlights from Beijing. Here’s a look at Team USA's performance on Day 16, Aug. 24, 2008.
They called themselves “The Redeem Team.”
This wasn’t the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team, known as “The Dream Team,” that brought NBA players for the first time and doubled as A-list celebrities while cruising to the gold medal.
The 2008 team arrived in Beijing on a mission.
A proud basketball nation, and the founder of the game, the United States had slipped in recent years, starting with an Olympic bronze medal in 2004. Two years later, the U.S. finished just third at the world championships, continuing a gold-medal drought at that event stretching back to 1994.
So under the leadership of general manager Jerry Colangelo and the coaching direction of Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, the stars lined up. Kobe Bryant was there. LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade joined, as did Chris Bosh, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. When they took the court in Beijing, redemption followed.
With a 118-107 win over Spain in the gold-medal game on the final day of the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, the U.S. men completed a dominant, undefeated run through the world’s best competition.
“Much respect to Spain,” James said, “but the U.S. is back on top again.”
The men’s basketball gold medal culminated one of the most popular events of the Games, with the sport rapidly growing in popularity in the host country and a U.S. team featuring most of the country’s best players again.
On a different type of court, the U.S. men’s volleyball team ended a drought of its own. With a four-set win over Brazil at the Capital Indoor Stadium, Team USA won its first gold medal in 20 years. The win was particularly emotional after Todd Bachman, the father-in-law of U.S. coach Hugh McCutcheon, had been killed at a Beijing tourist site earlier in the Games.
After top-ranked Brazil won the opening set, Team USA charged back to win the next three.
“Your whole life has been spent on this one thing, focused on this one goal,” veteran Lloy Ball told the New York Times. “I can’t explain how good it feels to have finally reached it.”
The U.S. men’s water polo team nearly made it a gold-medal trifecta on the final day of the Games, but after upsetting Serbia in the semifinals the Americans fell short of Hungary 14-10 in the title game. Still, it marked the first Olympic medal in 20 years for the men’s team.
“For us, this is an amazing accomplishment,” veteran Tony Azevedo told the Los Angeles Times.
The Beijing Games wrapped up that night with the Closing Ceremony, with no country going home with more than Team USA’s 110 medals. Due to later disqualifications, that number later increased to 112.
Highlighted by performances such as Michael Phelps’ record eight gold medals, Nastia Liukin’s all-around gymnastics title and the Redeem Team’s dominant run toward another title, the Beijing Games went down as one of the most memorable in recent history.
Chrös McDougall covered the 2008 Games for the Olympic News Service. He has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.