Critiqued for its perceived lack of dominance despite winning Group A, the United States saved its best for last on Sunday in the gold medal game.
Kevin Durant continued a career full of monster gold medal games, finishing with 30 points on 10-for-19 shooting and four assists to lead the Americans to a 96-66 throttling of Serbia on Sunday afternoon in Rio de Janeiro. The gold medal is the United States' third straight and sixth in the last seven Olympics.
Playing in his record fourth and final Olympics, the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony became the third American men's basketball player to win three gold medals. His first Olympics, the infamous 2004 Athens Games, yielded a bronze.
"We fought, it wasn't always pretty," a clearly emotional Anthony said on NBC shortly after the final buzzer. "We came together July 17 and we all committed for this one reason. It was a special moment for me.
"This is the end, this is it for me. I committed to this in '04. I've seen the worst and I've seen the best, and I stuck with it, we stuck with it. I'm here today, three gold medals later."
Point guard Kyrie Irving, the former Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick's star, added an Olympic gold medal to the NBA championship he won in June with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In this era of USA Basketball, beginning in 2005 when Jerry Colangelo was named managing director and Mike Krzyzewski coach, the Americans have often displayed dominance, but group play in Rio was different.
The United States blasted China and Venezuela to open the Olympics, but then defeated Australia by 10, and Serbia and France by three. Those last two wins, especially, brought to the forefront the notion that the United States was vulnerable.
That notion, despite the United States not having a full A-squad assembled in Rio, proved false. A six-point win over world power Spain in the semifinals on Friday was sandwiched between routs of Argentina in the quarterfinals and Serbia on Sunday.
Like Anthony, Krzyzewski's time with the national team has come to an end, having produced three Olympic gold medals (2008, 2012, 2016), two FIBA World Cup gold medals (2010, 2014) and a Worlds bronze (2006).
Between the Olympics and World Cup, Krzyzewski, 69, finishes with a record of 60-1, including 53 straight wins dating back to a semifinal loss to Greece at 2006 Worlds.
"Coach K, myself, Jerry Colangelo and everybody else who's been a part of this situation, who's been a part of USAB since I've been here, I just want to say thank you for allowing me to be one of the leaders, not just of our team, but of our country," Anthony said
"Despite everything going on in our country, we've got to be united and I'm glad I did what I did. I stepped up to the challenge, but this is what it's about."
With Krzyzewski stepping down, Colangelo named San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich as his successor last October. Popovich has USAB experience, having been an assistant during the organization's darkest days, in 2002 when it finished sixth on home soil at the World Championships, and in 2004.
The next global competition in which the United States will take part is the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Unlike past Worlds, the Olympic champion does not gain automatic qualification, which means the United States will have to qualify via the 2019 FIBA Americas Championship.
There have been early concerns that since the FIBA Americas, plus other Confederation qualifiers, would be held mid-year, they would be unlikely to include NBA players.