Netflix Doc on 2008 Team USA Olympic Basketball Squad Foreshadows Miami Heat “Big Three”

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Netflix Doc on 2008 Team USA Olympic Basketball Squad Foreshadows Miami Heat “Big Three”
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Netflix Doc on 2008 Team USA Olympic Basketball Squad Foreshadows Miami Heat “Big Three”

Centered on USA basketball’s redemption at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after an embarrassing 2004 performance, the new Netflix documentary The Redeem Team debuted on the streaming platform this past week to rave reviews. From never-before-seen video footage to recent interviews with many players, including Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James, it’s a worthwhile watch for hoops aficionados and non-fans alike.

While the film eloquently covers the journey of the U.S. men’s team to return to Olympic gold medal glory, Miamians may have picked up quite a few instances that foretold James, Wade, and Bosh joining forces to form the “Big Three” in the Magic City two years after the games ended.

Let’s unpack some important moments the film featured that non-Heat fans may have missed.
Playing Cards Led to the “Big 3”
Team USA in Beijing gave LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh their first taste of playing together, an experience that was fresh in their minds when making the decision to join forces in 2010. But it was an experience that took place two years prior to the games that seems to have truly created a bond between the eventual “Big 3.”

The Redeem Team highlights a monthlong stay in a Las Vegas hotel during an offseason training camp as a pivotal moment in the formation of a bond between the younger players on the team. Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul describes a nightly ritual of playing cards together that was the actual sleepover-camp experience that ignited the friendship that lasts to this day.

“There was a group of us that played cards every single night for 35 straight days,” Paul says.

“You know, 35 days you’re gone from your family, but you know, this is another family. So it’s like I never left home,” LeBron James later comments.

Our guess? The 2006 NBA championship Dwyane Wade had just won with the Miami Heat, and how the organization does its business, came up quite a bit.
Chris Bosh Learns to Sacrifice
It may be tough for many to remember, but Chris Bosh was a bona fide superstar in his own right when he joined Team USA as a member of the Toronto Raptors.

According to Bosh, playing with the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade was his first experience coming off the bench, and it was a tough lesson to learn that his defense, not his 25 points per game, was most important to the team’s success.

“I knew that, ‘OK, I’m playing with Kobe Bryant, D-Wade (Dwyane Wade), and Melo (Carmelo Anthony). I’m probably not going to get that many shots, so let me get out of the way,'” Bosh told Olympics.com.

“Lucky for me, I recognized it. I was able to contribute and have more of a focus on the defensive end to give them space on offense.”

The experience of sacrificing for Team USA under his belt likely made the thought of sharing the spotlight with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade with Miami a much easier pill to swallow years later and played a big part in Bosh’s vital role as a supporting star in two championship runs.
Dwyane Wade Alludes to Heat Disrespect
The Redeem Team isn’t all positive news for the Miami Heat. While speaking about feeling disrespected prior to the Beijing Games, Wade observes, “I understood it, but I was pissed. Because it was just a part of my never-ending story of always feeling like they don’t appreciate you. You’ve been forgotten.”

Following knee and shoulder surgeries, he was driven to prove to Team USA that he was the same player as before the injuries.

“Same thing in grade school. Same thing in high school. Same thing in the NBA. Same thing in the Olympics.”

Italics added: It’s clear who Wade believes didn’t appreciate him in the NBA, as that was the sticking point and main reason for leaving the Miami Heat in the 2016 free agency for the Chicago Bulls.
LeBron on Playing with Stars
The Redeem Team features an abundance of behind-the-scenes videos of the team during its gold medal journey, but one speech LeBron James delivers to the team sticks out as a precursor to his signing with the Heat in 2010.

LeBron is shown telling his fellow players that he could see himself getting used to being surrounded by elite teammates:

“We gotta be a no-excuse team. I know I’m guilty of this sometimes. I sit at home and say, ‘If I had Dwight Howard on my team or if I had Carlos Boozer on my team or if I had Chris Paul as my point guard, I’d win an NBA Championship.’ I got all y’all on this team. So, what’s my excuse now? Do we all have an excuse? We don’t. This is everything that we always dreamed of, of having that guy next to you and winning something. I don’t have no excuse now. None of us.”

Seeing as the Cleveland Cavaliers did little to provide LeBron with Team USA-caliber teammates in the years to follow, it’s no surprise he was eager to get back to playing with a few of his Olympic teammates on a nightly basis.
Coach K Teaches LeBron Accountability
One of the documentary’s prominent storylines is Duke’s legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski being called on to coach NBA players in one of the most pivotal moments of USA basketball history. While admitting he was turned off by the idea of learning from Coach K at first — because everyone hates Duke — LeBron later says he admired Coach K for keeping him accountable.

“Coach K had a way of keeping players accountable,” James said in an interview for the film. “Throughout my career, I’ve always played best for coaches that hold me accountable.”

That comment, coupled with the knowledge that LeBron’s best years came with the Miami Heat under coach Erik Spoelstra, betrays his belief that the tough-love, hard-working approach that comes with Heat culture is what got the best of him.

This observation is especially interesting with the knowledge that LeBron’s desire for more freedom and less structure was at least partially responsible for his departure from the Heat in 2014.