This was no Dream Team. This was reality.
The gold medal was in doubt for the U.S. men's basketball team.
The Americans led Spain by only one point after three quarters, a back-and-forth, impossible-to-turn-away-from game that almost anyone would hope for in an Olympic final.
Especially, it turns out, the U.S. players.
''We knew it wasn't going to be easy. We didn't want it easy,'' LeBron James said. ''A lot of teams have won gold easy. We didn't want it that way. We're a competitive team, and we love when it gets tight. That's when our will and determination kind of shows. It was the same way in '08.''
Same result, too.
The Americans defended their title Sunday by fighting off another huge challenge from Spain, pulling away in the final minutes for a 107-100 victory and their second straight Olympic championship.
And just like 2008, the star-studded Americans had to work for this one.
The London 2012 daily magazine proclaimed them ''the new Dream Team'' in an article, but the real Dream Team never had a game like this 20 years ago in Barcelona. And if that means this group isn't worthy of the comparisons to Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Co., the players had their own response.
''Everybody wants to make that comparison, but at the end of the day we're both wearing these,'' forward Kevin Love said, pulling on his gold medal. ''That's pretty good.''
James capped one of basketball's most brilliant individual years with a monster dunk and a huge 3-pointer in the final 2:50 that finally ended a Spanish threat few expected after the Americans had been so dominant for so long in London.
Yet four years after beating Spain 118-107 in a classic in Beijing, the U.S. found itself in another tight one, unable to ever really slow the Spanish down until the closing minutes.