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USA Basketball’s shocking finish vs. Yugoslavia needs a deep rewind | 2002 FIBA World Championship

USA Basketball’s shocking finish vs. Yugoslavia needs a deep rewind | 2002 FIBA World Championship


– We’re in Indianapolis, Indiana. It’s September 5th,
2002 and seconds remain in a FIBA World Championship
quarter final game between Yugoslavia and the United States. This is the world’s most
important international tournament outside the Olympics, basketball’s version of the World Cup. And the typically dominant
US is losing by three points. Before they attempt a final shot, we need to remember how a
presumptive basketball superpower arrived at the brink of disaster, how these guys came to
represent the host country. And similarly, we need to understand how this Yugoslavian team got here, how a changing, conflicted
world reshaped sports. We need to rewind. (mellow music) So the first thing I wanna talk about is American attendance. It’s disappointing. Conseco Fieldhouse seats 18,000 people, but has been at well under half-capacity throughout this tournament, forcing organizers to cut ticket prices. 5,300 people are here today
and as has often been the case, plenty of them are rooting
against the host country. That probably has something
to do with the attendance on the court. This is the final possession of an international elimination game and the line-up representing earth’s preeminent basketball-playing nation is Andre Miller, Reggie Miller, Paul Pierce, Jermaine O’Neal, and Antonio Davis. On one hand, coach George Karl has given this Indianapolis crowd
some Pacers to watch, so that’s nice. On the other hand, while
these are all good players, they are far from the
best America has to offer. So yeah, we need to talk through some USA basketball history. In 1989, FIBA changed its
rules to allow NBA players to participate in
international competition. This came after years of
teams like the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia skirting
the amateurs-only rule. Those countries found ways to
roster professional players, while American teams were
made of college kids. Very good college kids,
but still, actual amateurs. A rule change permitting all pros was met with some consternation from various American interests who would rather close
the loophole for others than open it for themselves. Some worried American NBA
players wouldn’t wanna play. Conversely, former USOC
president Robert Kane said it would be a sad day for the Olympics if a team like Kenya had to face Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. The rule went through, but
an NBA to Team USA pipeline wasn’t in place by the
1990 FIBA Championship. College players like Kenny
Anderson and Alonzo Mourning represented their country
in Argentina and won bronze. But by the ’92 Barcelona Olympics, Team USA hadn’t just
incorporated the NBA players, they had stirred up enough interest to attract the best NBA players. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson
didn’t play against Kenya, but they did kick off the games
by beating Angola 116 to 48. Starting with those Olympics, professionalized American dream teams bulldozed everyone everywhere. They went undefeated
for a gold medal in ’92, undefeated, gold medal at
the FIBA World Championship in ’94 in Canada, undefeated and gold at the
’96 Olympics in Atlanta. But the pipeline was beginning to thin. The 1998 FIBA Championship
happened in the middle of the NBA lock-out,
so the US sent a ragtag bunch of players from other leagues to scrap out a bronze medal in Greece. If you can name any of these people, you really know your basketball. And even after the lock-out, the 2000 team wasn’t very dreamy. Shaq and Kobe declined invites. Tim Duncan and Grant Hill were hurt. No Iverson, Malone,
Webber, the list goes on. That squad kept the
undefeated streak alive and won gold in Sydney,
but way too narrowly. The Americans had to gut out
some tough wins against France and came one rimmed-out
Lithuanian buzzer beater away from losing in the semifinal. They were so close to blowing it. If you think that near miss sparked a return of NBA
superstars to Team USA, you would be mistaken. All of these people passed on
this FIBA World Championship. Jason Kidd and Ray Allen
pulled out because of injuries. George Karl’s USA roster
came down to this. A good group of players, but I mean, the best centers are Jermaine O’Neal who’s better at power forward, and Ben Wallace who offers
basically nothing on offense. Without Allen, the best shooter is 37-year-old Reggie Miller. Without Kidd, the best point
guards are Andre Miller and Baron Davis, both light
on big game experience. These guys, Nick Collison
and Jay Williams, have yet to play pro ball at all. The top scorers are Paul Pierce who just made his first NBA all-star team and Michael Finley who’s
one of nine guys here who didn’t make it this season. So the US played multiple
games in this tournament in which one could argue the best player on the
floor wasn’t American. Germany’s Dirk Nowitzki
dropped 34 on them. China’s Yao Ming was
a very tough match-up. But it’s not just a lack of
star talent, it’s chemistry. Team Argentina employs no NBA players, at least not here in 2002. Their leading scorer is
some dude the Spurs drafted in the second round a few years ago who’s been playing in
Italy, Manu Ginobili. But on the final day of
group play, just yesterday, Manu and the gang became
the first team ever to defeat a USA squad
composed of NBA players, ending a run of 58
straight wins since ’92. It was a huge deal for
Argentina and their fans who justifiably celebrated
a convincing victory like they’d won the whole thing. Ginobili was frank about
the advantage his team had. The Argentinians practiced and developed alongside one another. They know each other, they fit together. The Americans, not so much. Teamwork defeats star power. Although I feel like if the
US just brought better stars, that wouldn’t be true. Either way, the loss didn’t diminish the Americans’ cockiness. After that historic defeat,
point guard Baron Davis said, “It’s not the medal round. “We’ll be back to win the gold.” Well, here we are in the medal round and Team USA has been shaky. Leading scorer Paul Pierce
got in foul trouble early on. Coach Karl has depended on Ben
Wallace to score in the post and as you can see, Ben
Wallace is not great at that. The US keeps wasting foul shots,
especially Jermaine O’Neal who air-balled one of his four
straight missed free throws in the fourth quarter. Honestly, this game should
already be out of reach, but Andre Miller hit a
contested bail-out three with 38 seconds left, then
tossed a gorgeous pass to hometown hero/oldest player
on the team by a long shot, Reggie Miller, who was cutting backdoor. And even after all that, defeat looms. If these guys can’t tie
the game with a three, the US won’t win any
medal, let alone a gold. After 10 years undefeated, USA basketball could
lose twice in two days. But remember, even against
kind of a JV American team, every country in this
tournament except Argentina has come up way short. So to understand this score,
we’ve got to dig deeper into these players
representing Yugoslavia, which means something very
different than it used to. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s,
Yugoslavia was right up there with the US and Soviet Union in contention for international
basketball medals. In the 1990 World Championship, that last American team of college players fell in the semifinal to
a stacked roster of pros from Yugoslavia, including a
couple who’d become NBA stars. One of those stars, Vlade
Divac, is here today, 12 years later and owned the
Americans in the first half. At 34, Divac is much older
than any of his teammates and just months removed
from his Sacramento Kings heartbreaking Western Conference
Final loss to the Lakers. But Divac is a big part of this team and taking this tournament so seriously that he’s given up smoking for the week. That’s a big deal for Vlade. Divac torched the American big men, muscling against Wallace, drawing contact against Antonio Davis, and putting the moves on Elton Brand for 16 points in the first half, not to mention his usual
slick passing to cutters. But look around and you’ll see no one else from the 1990 Yugoslavian squad. Yes, a lot of time has passed, but that’s not the only reason. After winning that ’90 FIBA gold, that team and the nation that
produced it would fracture. The Yugoslav wars, a series
of independence movements and ethnic conflicts way too complicated for me to explain in
an episode of Rewinder, led to the breakup of
a long-standing nation that had competed in
international basketball since the 1940s. Even while winning gold at
EuroBasket 1991 in Rome, the ethnically diverse
team experienced tension with one eye on the conflict at home. The war directly affected them when Jurij Zdovc withdrew from
the team before the semifinal to appease the Slavonian
independence movement. Instead of one collective
team, the ’92 Olympics included teams representing
some of now-independent former Yugoslavian constituents. Only Croatia, home to
stars like Drazen Petrovic and Toni Kukoc, competed in basketball, winning silver to the
original dream team’s gold. Notably absent in
Barcelona were the Serbians and Montenegrins from
that old Yugoslavian team. Their nations had formed a new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and were banned from
international competition because of UN sanctions
in response to the war. They missed several consecutive
international tournaments including a ’94 World Championship they were originally
supposed to host in Belgrade. The ban lasted up until
the Dayton Accords in 1995, which made that year’s EuroBasket the official return of
quote-unquote Yugoslavia, really just Serbia and Montenegro, to international basketball. It was a triumphant return. With some new blood joining
the holdover veterans, Yugoslavia won EuroBasket ’95 in an all-time great
final versus Lithuania, then two of the next
three EuroBasket golds. They won World Championship gold in 1998 and mixed in an impressive
silver medal run at the ’96 Olympics. And the second half
today has been all about the new generation, the
guys who never played for the original Yugoslavian team. Dejan Bodiroga, who helped
pioneer the dribble move Americans most closely associate with Providence College legend God Shammgod, has busted out that
very move here in Indy. A double-digit American
lead in the fourth quarter evaporated thanks to
threes from Milan Gurovic. Marko Jaric, who just
signed with the LA Clippers, has hit all four of his clutch-free
throws down the stretch. But Yugoslavia’s clear star is a player NBA fans now know well,
25-year-old Peja Stojakovic. The Kings drafted Stojakovic in 1996 and brought him over from Europe in ’98, the same year they signed Divac. After a couple years on the bench, Stojakovic broke out in 2001 as one of the best three-point
shooters in the league. This season, he made
his first all-star game, became the first European player to win the NBA’s Three-Point Contest, and yeah, might’ve won a Championship if not for the brutal, contentious finish to that Conference Final
against the Lakers. In this second half, Peja has
hit a couple of big threes, finished off a gorgeous feed
from his Kings teammate, and canned a couple important
free throws down the stretch. Peja’s leading the way,
but all of these guys will be national heroes if
they can get a stop here. So who are they stopping? It’s looking like one of the Millers. Reggie is one of the greatest
three-point shooters ever and in front of an Indiana crowd, would be the perfect
hero to send this to OT. He’s also 37 and dragging a sore ankle. The 26-year-old Andre, no relation, is best known as a passer, but he’s been the US’ best
all-around offensive player today for lack of a better option. And that really is the theme
of this ordeal, win or lose. When they were still the
only basketball superpower obeying the amateur rule, the
Americans lost now and then. When that rule came down,
they completely took over. But NBA players aren’t
showing up like they used to. And this underwhelming American squad has already suffered defeat. Now, it could happen again versus a team that bears the
same name an ’80s powerhouse, but draws from a much smaller, although still impressively
deep, pool of talent. It’s gonna come down to a Miller. The beloved but old Reggie looks like he’s gonna pass this off
to the overachieving Andre who needs a bucket to save
the US from humiliation. Let’s see what happens. Welcome to a moment in history. (crowd cheers) (announcing in a foreign language) (crowd cheers) (click)

100 thoughts on “USA Basketball’s shocking finish vs. Yugoslavia needs a deep rewind | 2002 FIBA World Championship”

  1. First 6 minutes of your videos are really not worth watching, you re just trying to say that US team was so bad until that game happens and acctually got defeted by guys who ve been just better

  2. How about the Greece vs USA game in the 1990 World Championship ? It is a little known game (because it wasn't a knock out) but a really interesting one.

  3. what happened to Yugoslavia in the 90s really was a tragedy…obviously not just on the basketball court but in so many other areas as well

  4. 2002 was the all time low year for NBA. The crooked refs robbing kings of their finals appearance, one of the shittiest eastern conferences I've ever seen. It was a transitional period. That roster might have won with a decent coach, george karl sorry but is always a failure in crucial moments. Larry brown was horrible in olympics too, keeping young players on the bench and running his stupid ass schemes.
    Only reason why I still expect team USA to win this year, even with that mediocre squad, is because Popovich is an all time great coach.

  5. I had to check this but roughly the population of Yugoslavia was 24 million.

    The Population of America 330 Million. That is unreal how good that is. Serbia who are second favs behind USA in this world cup just 7million. UNREAL

  6. SB must stand for Serbian Nation. 17 years ago? Really? USA media wasn't saying a word about USAs prior Coach K squads. O yeah almost forgot "redeem team" "b team". There's not patriotism here for any national sport. Tennis Boxing Basketball Baseball. And u want players to stand for an anthem for a country that doesnt support them. Yeah Ok.

  7. If yugoslavia was still here best players would be nikola jokic jusuf nurkic both bogdanovicis nemanja bjelica saric marjanovic hezonja teodosic doncic dragic vucevic zubac zizic and manx more players that play in europe that are very very good

  8. Great video. You do make it look like everyone was cheating and only US followed the rules to not let professionals play. It's more like Americans have always been too arogant to acknowledge other leagues as professional. Even today Luka Doncic is a rookie in NBA after winnimg championships and MVP awards in professional leagues.

  9. And now that "mini yugoslavia" broke again.. now yugoslavia became 4 countries (slovenia, croatia, serbia, montenegro)… Just imagine if yugoslavia still exist today, their basketball team woul be super strong… They will have jokic, doncic,vucevic, bogdan, bojan, boban, zubac, teodosic, dragic, dario saric, bjelica, jusuf nurkic, mario hezonja, ante zizic, etc… Too bad they have broke into 4 cluntries…

  10. The reason why the united states men's national basketball loss at the 2002 fiba world championship team because shaquille o'neal, jason kidd, allen iverson, ray allen, kevin garnett, kobe bryant, tracy mcgrady and the other nba star are not participated at the tournament

  11. The USA team wasn't bad at all as you try to make it look like.
    Andre Miller was in the first rookie team some years prior to 2002 and the assist leader in 2002.
    Reggie Miller was an older player but still in the NBA and had a decent ppg in 2001 and 2002 season, one of the best shooters of all time.
    Paul Pierce is a HoF now, back in 2001 and 2002 he was having 26ppg seasons.
    Jermaine O'Neal was the most improved player in 2002 and an All Star player, he had an average of 20ppg in 2001-2002 and 2002-2003.
    Antonio Davis was a veteran with 14ppg in those two seasons when the World Championship was played 2001-2002.
    Ben Wallace was one of the best defensive players of his generation, won the Defensive player of the year 2002 and was also the block and rebound leader that same year, the man is basically a good HoF potential.
    Baron Davis was having an 18 and 17 ppg season in 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 and he had his prime stats just a year after that in the 2003-2004 season, a good player.

    This team went up against Stojakovic that had a 21ppg and 19ppg in the 2 season around this tournament and Divac who had an 11ppg seasons more or less.

    On paper the USA team should have still won a medal.

  12. Great video… I've watched the game at 3 AM in the morning and then went on celebrating on the city's central square at 5 AM… I was young, enthusiastic about basketball and had my second baby born a couple of months before… I truly had the sense of living history.

  13. This Yugoslavia was only Serbs, it is bassicly Serbia and Montenegro just keep the name Yugoslavia, after few years change name in Serbia

  14. Current Ex Yugoslavian Rooster:

    Dragic (Miami) ALL Star, Teodosic (ex LA Clippers and best PG outside USA),
    Bogdan Bogdanovic (Sacramento Kings), Bojan Boganovic (Utah Jazz), Luka Doncic ( Dallas – future All Star), (Guduric, Memphis Grizzlies), Hezonja (Portland)
    Bjelica (Sacramento Kings), Dario Saric (Phoenix Suns)
    Jokic ( Denver Nuggets, All Star and best Center in NBA), Vucevic (Orlando – All Star), Nurkic ( Portland), Marijanovic ( Dallas ), (Zubac LA Clippers)

    Starting 5: Dragic, Bogdanovic, Doncic, Vucevic, Jokic (4 Allstars in starting lineup) from the region that has population like city of NY 🙂

  15. Basketball is the most interesting ball game in the world.

    The only sport popular with men, women and disabled people of all ages.

  16. Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball is the most successful team in world sports.
    To understand we need to rewind To the 50s but great recognition started in the late 70s.
    1977: European Champion .

  17. Your downplaying the US team at that time and obviously compared to other dream team squads it does get less credit but man everyone give props to serbia for being a basketball powerhouse 💪

    Man the ex Yugo would be dominating sports right now if they were still together 💪

  18. Am I the only one that is turned off by the fact that this video seems to be making huge excuses for the USA team?

    It seems to be saying "we would have won, but our best players wouldn't come."

    That's so low! It's taking credit away from the team that won it.

    Using that same logic, what if people from former Yugoslavian republics started to say "if Yugoslavia would have stayed together then there would have been no 'Dream Team' in '92 and '96 as we would have combined all our stars that would beat the Americans."

    Such a statement would just make many people mad and it would take away from credit the champions deserve.

    Don't give the hypothetical "shoulda coulda woulda", but just give what did happen!

  19. Too many ''coincidences'' now in 2019 from that 2002 like Serbia opening world cup with Angola, Team USA doesnt have their best players etc. Hope for the same ending tho !

  20. USA should switch to 25 and under. We can never go back to college players, but I’d much rather have younger players try to win than a bunch of super stars.

  21. Then Team USA was a disappointment at the 2004 Olympics. Granted, they had to scramble to get a team together on a moment’s notice. But when you have a coach (Larry Brown) who has had beef with a player on that team (Iverson), this wasn’t going to be golden. When they lost to Puerto Rico in the round robin, I predicted they weren’t getting gold.

  22. Funny thing about Gurovic guy: everyone in the team were pissing him off about some interview that Reggie “gave” saying that he has no idea who is Milan Gurovic. They got into his head so much that he played intense defense on Reggie and scored three 3pt shots in 4th quarter, including the one in the last minute, he started screaming at his teammates “WHERE’S THIS REGGIE MILLER NOW?”… one of the best hot head stories, for sure. 🤣🤣🤣

  23. I hope this will happen again this year.. But I think Serbia is most dominant team this world cup,unlike that 2002 year Yugoslavian team. Long live SRBIJAAAA

  24. …And the first thing I would like you to talk about is that tie dyed shirt…can a brother get a deep rewind about that T (please)

  25. The Bodiroga whip or El Lastigo (how its called in europe) or ShamGod how u call it in USA, was one of his signature moves.
    Sold it to lots of players but the most impresive one was against Melo a few years later in a friendly game in Belgrade
    He was a true european superstar..

  26. Even though I'm American I'm happy for the Yugoslavians here. Nobody in the U.S. would remember this game today or even care about it back then if the Americans had won. We hardly even care about the Olympics let alone the FIBA World Cup. But in Serbia & Montenegro people still talk about this game with pride because it gave them a moment of joy and national unity after ten very difficult years for their people. They earned this one.

  27. Is there any chance you guys could do the cricket World Cup final from this year?

    I know most of your audience doesn’t follow or even understand cricket, I don’t follow it really. But it really was jaw dropping how it ended.

  28. This is why Sacramento Kings has been rigged in the NBA where Divac and Stojakovic played in that team. They still butthurt about the loss.

  29. Brasil in soccer (european football) is what US is in basketball, simply the best. They both can literally make 40 teams that can easily win any World Cup or Olympic gold. But Brasil can only send 22 players and not 880, so it's 11 against 11 from another country and many times, Brasil has not won the World Cup nor the Olympics because they didn't have a great goalkeeper or they choose the wrong one, or the best one was injured or whatever. Or their best attacker was injured or the coach didn't choose the best attacker but he choose the ones he thought would understand best the tactical system of his view of football, or there were egoistic problems between the players etc… so Brasil only wins 6 out of 21 World Cups they played which is not bad but as you see, the world best football country, doesn't necessarily always win. So if US doesn't always win the World basketball Cup, we don't care for what internal reason they didn't send the best players, because of injury, because of fear of doping scandals (remember doping standards in US are different from European standards, some substances are legal in US but illegal in Europe, so a US player would have to stop using those substances he usually uses in US for about 12 months to be clean and pass european standards of doping, which he cannot do because he couldn't compete at the level he wants in the NBA), it also can be that players are not motivated to go to a World Cup they feel is not important to them, or other players don't go because their NBA club insist that if they get injured during a World Cup game, their contract with the club will be terminated or they will not pay their salary during the time of injury so the player must buy for himself an insurance for that purpose, which is VERY expensive, a few hundred thousand dollars, so they don't go. All in all, nobody cares WHY Brasil doesn't show up with their best players during a World Cup in football or US during a World Cup in basketball, the team they send is the team to play against and that's it. Who cares if Yugoslavia's Slovenian player didn't want to play just so to appease the Slovenian independence movement??? WTF? it's their problem, not anybody else's! Yugoslavia shows up with the team they can produce, then every game is 5 against 5, you show up, you play, you win or you loose, end of story. All other things you mentioned are irrelevant. We must only focus on the team each country sends and see what happens. Like now Serbia's Teodosic is injured… should that be a valid excuse in case they don't get into the final? No way!

  30. Without braking of big Yugoslavia people would watch the dream team of Yugoslavia vs. the dream team of U.S.A. in Barcelona 1992. It's a shame that it never happened…

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