For a long time, it was Carmelo Anthony who starred for Team USA, winning three Olympic gold medals and a bronze in his four Olympic appearances, consistently turning out for his country and delivering some iconic performances along the way.
Kevin Durant now joins Anthony as the only men's players to win three Olympic golds after leading Team USA past France in their 87-82 win in Tokyo, rewriting the record books with his dominant performance in the final.
TAKEAWAYS: Durant scores 29 PTS to power USA to gold medal | Holiday and Middleton join exclusive club
Durant poured in 29 points, six rebounds and three assists on 9-of-18 shooting and now owns three of the top five scoring performances in gold medal games.
"KD, he's not special because he's so talented, the way he works on his game is more impressive, the relationships he builds with teammates, the respect he garners, the joy he has in playing its like osmosis," head coach Gregg Popovich said post-game of Durant's leadership.
"It goes into all the other players and allows you to develop a camaraderie and enjoyment to be together and to do that and that sort of love of the game and love of people is what makes him more special than as a player."
Most points in an Olympic gold medal game
The 32-year-old also became the first player to score 100+ points in three seperate Olympic Games, eclipsing LeBron James and Michal Jordan, who did so twice.
Kevin Durant is the first player to score 100+ points in 3 different Olympics in United States Men's Basketball history.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 7, 2021
The only other players to do this in 2 Olympics are LeBron James and Michael Jordan. pic.twitter.com/DuGJ9JOB9i
Durant led the United States in scoring for a third straight Olympics (London 19.5 ppg, Rio 19.4 ppg), averaging 20.7 points per game in Tokyo and overtook Carmelo Anthony for the most points ever scored in USA men's basketball history.
He now has a total of 435 points in 22 games, overtaking Anthony's 336 points in 31 games. LeBron James is third with 273 points.
Durant now holds an Olympic scoring average of 19.3 points per game, the best of any USA men's player and has knocked down the most 3-pointers ever with 71.
Throw in a 2010 FIBA Basketball World Cup title where he was named tournament MVP at age 21, after leading Team USA in scoring at 22.8 points per game, dropping 28 points in the final against Turkey, his USA resume is unmatched with the experience of representing his country something he doesn't take for granted.
"To build a camaraderie with the most talented guys in the world, to fight for your country, to represent my little section of [the] United States, my family and everybody else doing the same, it's special that we can come together for a common cause," Durant responded when asked what playing for Team USA means to him.
"Because we battle against each other all year and we fight so hard to get this gold ball in the NBA but for us to rise above that and become teammates and brothers for life against the rest of the world, it's just a huge huge deal.
"I'm always grateful for this opportunity as always, amazing to get with USAB, it's been my family since I got into the league, it's just that brotherhood that we created and the journey of working every day with these guys, it brings me a lot of joy, I really, really enjoy it."
With his name now next to nearly every USA men's Olympic record, it's safe to say Durant has cemented himself as Captain America.
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