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July 27, 2021 12:35 pm ET

With the Olympic Summer Games underway in Tokyo, the United States men’s national basketball team is once again a massive favorite to capture a gold medal.

Since basketball was included as an Olympic sport in 1936 in Berlin, Team USA has brought home the gold 15 times in 18 appearances – but in 2021, Team USA is far from invincible, with three losses in the month of July alone.

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Dominant squads such as the original Dream Team or 2008’s Redeem Team have set an expectation that collections of American NBA superstars should never lose, but since 1992, Team USA has suffered 14 shocking losses in tournament and exhibition play.

For the purposes of this list, we’re overlooking losses Team USA suffered when the roster wasn’t full of NBA talent, in tournaments such as the 1998 FIBA World Championship, or the 2005 FIBA Americas Championship, where Team USA relied on college stars or unheralded Americans playing internationally.

Here’s a list of every Team USA upset since NBA stars took over international basketball:

2002 FIBA World Championship group stage: Argentina 87, USA 80


It took a decade before a Team USA squad laden with NBA superstars dropped a game, but the 2002 FIBA World Championships were the start of a down period for USA Basketball.

2002 FIBA World Championship quarterfinals: FR Yugoslavia 81, USA 78

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

The 2002 FIBA World Cup was George Karl’s lone tournament in charge of Team USA. His squad lacked star power compared to previous iterations of Team USA, and was led by the likes of Paul Pierce, Jermaine O’Neal, Shawn Marion, Reggie Miller, Baron Davis and Ben Wallace. The FR Yugoslavia team that knocked Team USA out of medal contention featured Peja Stojakovic and Vlade Divac.

2002 FIBA World Championship 5th place playoff: Spain 81, USA 75

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

A young Pau Gasol was the only NBA player on the Spanish team that handed Team USA a tournament-ending loss, though several young Spanish players would later make their way to the league, such as Jose Calderon and Juan Carlos Navarro.

2004 Pre-Olympics tour: Italy 95, USA 78

AP Photo/Frank Augstein

The 2004 Olympics cycle was so disastrous for Team USA that the dominant Olympic squad that captured gold four years later was known as the “Redeem Team.” A blowout loss in an exhibition to Italy was a sign of things to come in Athens.

2004 Olympics group stage: Puerto Rico 92, USA 73

Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

Stephon Marbury’s face says it all. This is Team USA’s biggest Olympic loss on record, and was only the third loss Team USA had ever suffered in the Olympics to this point.

2004 Olympics group stage: Lithuania 94, USA 90

AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac

Allen Iverson and Tim Duncan served as co-captains for Larry Brown’s team in Athens – and they were the only players on the team to be named NBA All-Stars the previous season.

2004 Olympics semifinals: Argentina 89, USA 81


Team USA left Athens with a bronze medal after Manu Ginobili and Argentina upset the Americans in the semifinals.

2006 FIBA World Championship semifinals: Greece 101, USA 95

AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye

Mike Krzyzewski was appointed head coach of Team USA in 2005, and though he would go on to lead the team to three consecutive gold medals in the Olympics, his first tournament yielded a bronze after a shock loss to Greece in the semifinals. Following this loss, Coach K never lost again with Team USA, and posted a career record of 75-1 as a head coach.

2019 pre-FIBA World Cup tour: Australia 98, USA 94

Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images

Current Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich, however, hasn’t been quite as successful at the helm – though his rosters haven’t quite been as strong as they could potentially be.

2019 FIBA World Cup quarterfinals: France 89, USA 79

Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Rudy Gobert’s French team inflicted the first of what would be multiple painful losses on Team USA in the 2019 World Cup quarterfinals, ensuring the Americans would not compete for a medal.

2019 FIBA World Cup 5th-8th classification game: Serbia 94, USA 89


The Americans then followed up that loss by dropping a game to Nikola Jokic and Serbia.

2021 Pre-Olympics tour: Nigeria 90, USA 87

AP Photo/David Becker

A rash of injuries across the NBA and an unusually late end to the NBA season hurt Popovich’s roster for the 2021 Olympics, but he still boasts a squad featuring Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum and Devin Booker, all of whom have an argument as top-15 (or in Durant’s case, top-3) players in the NBA. Team USA’s road to gold got off to a rocky start in an exhibition against Nigeria, as Gabe Vincent – a Miami Heat reserve who average 4.8 points per game last season – led all scorers with 21 points in an upset.

2021 Pre-Olympics tour: Australia 91, USA 83

AP Photo/John Locher

Team USA followed up its loss by dropping a second consecutive game, this time to Jazz sharpshooter Joe Ingles and Australia.

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