EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Devin Booker wins Olympic gold medal, Kevin Durant leads USA over France

Aug 6, 2021, 9:50 PM | Updated: 11:39 pm
Nando de Colo #12 of Team France looks to pass the ball asDevin Booker #15 of Team United States de...
Nando de Colo #12 of Team France looks to pass the ball asDevin Booker #15 of Team United States defends during the first half of a Men's Basketball Finals game on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on August 07, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Devin Booker achieved one of his ultimate goals this summer.

Sure, the one he put the most work into and wanted more than any other was an NBA championship with the Phoenix Suns. He’ll have a few more cracks at making that happen over his career.

But on Friday night, er, I mean, Saturday afternoon 16 hours ahead in Tokyo, he won a gold medal with Team USA in the Olympics. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime-type deal too. Pretty cool.

It was an 87-82 victory for the Americans over France in the gold medal game.

Ever since Booker was named to the select team for the 2016 Olympics, he talked about how it had always been a dream of his to win the tournament representing his country. He saw how this was something the all-time greats did at some point in their career, and now Booker has done it.

The final against France was not a fair representation of Booker’s overall play across the last two weeks, as he joined Kevin Durant and Jrue Holiday as being one of the Americans’ three most consistent players.

Booker had two points and an assist in 22 minutes, struggling with foul trouble. Even through that, Booker played stellar defense and was one of the best defenders in the tournament. Head coach Gregg Popovich had Holiday marking France’s Evan Fournier, leaving Booker as the man taking on the French’s point guard, Nando de Colo.

In that position, Booker was picking up the floor general full court and hounding ’em. Through that and switching, he drew two offensive fouls with that mentality. It has been a joy to watch Booker accept his role change and adapt to it, becoming a glue guy on a team full of stars like him.

For the rematch against France, a matchup the Americans lost in pool play, they won through their defense. The United States’ intensity on that end reached a new gear and held the French to 32% shooting from three-point range. A tremendous Durant continued his top-notch form on the other end, scoring 29 points to carry the offense again.

Jayson Tatum (19 points) had his best game of the Olympics, and ditto for Damian Lillard (11 points), who was great defensively and hit a few key shots in the fourth quarter.

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