LONDON — It’s a collection of superstars with MVP trophies, scoring titles and all sorts of impressive statistics. And it wasn’t until the U.S. men’s basketball team was finally challenged that it found its leader.
Lithuania was on the verge of an Olympic-sized upset when LeBron James made four big baskets in the final four minutes Saturday, finishing with 20 points in a 99-94 victory that kept the Americans unbeaten but cracked their aura of invincibility.
There’s one player who has done everything for the star-studded United States. Not surprisingly, it’s the NBA MVP.
Through three games, James did little things that went unnoticed — played center, ignited runs and deferred to his teammates — as the Americans cruised to easy wins. James had more time to rest than shoot.
Eventually a close game came, and James seized it.
“He’s more important than me,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said recently.
More than any of his teammates, either.
James did it all for the Miami Heat during the playoffs and now is taking on the same responsibility for the Americans.
Guard the opposing center? Fine.
Pass the ball to the open shooters? No problem.
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