For the United States men’s basketball national team, winning a gold medal isn’t just desired: it’s expected. Anything short of gold, even if the country’s best players watch the games on TV, would be uncivilized.
When Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and company lost to Greece during the 2006 FIBA World Championships, it brought shame to our entire country. The sad thing is, I don’t even know if I’m exaggerating. Basketball is supposed to be ours and nobody else’s, so when the United States’s national team loses it catches a lot of heat. And if it wins, well, that’s to be expected.
Turkey doesn’t share America’s basketball pedigree, so when the Turkish team unexpectedly advanced to the World Championship’s final game — even though it lost to the United States in the final — the country swelled with pride. A wealthy Turkish real estate mogul, so elated by his country’s World Championship performance, gifted each player a free villa/apartment. They were also paid $700,000 a piece, as a bonus for the silver medal. One of the recipient players, Semih Erden, now plays for the Celtics. He will make a little more than $473,000 to play a full season in Boston. (TrueHoop)
And the champions, the United States? Each player received $25,000 for their role in winning the gold medal. The price of expectation, in this case, was only $675,000. Oh yeah, and a free villa.