The rivalry among the NBA’s elite has spilled off the court and into an arena where athletes have historically feared to tread: high fashion. Players show up for games wearing leather pants, lensless glasses, and printed silk shirts—and that’s just Russell Westbrook. GQ’s Steve Marsh spent a week trailing basketball’s biggest names—Kevin Durant, Kobe, D-Wade, LeBron—to ﬁnd out how they’re turning the league into a runway for the world’s tallest peacocks.
Amar’e Stoudemire (forward, Team USA): The Greece game was probably the worst. People were screaming. There were police in the crowd. Carmelo turned to me at one point on the bench and said, “Man, if we don’t win this game, these Greeks are going to tear this place up.”
Once in a great while, everything comes together to create an immortal Olympic memory—lackadaisical NBA stars, bad officiating, anti-Americanism, fat Lithuanians with killer jump shots, and bad luck. Here, the shocking story of the 2004 Dream Team, in their own words.
GQ’s NBA columnist Bethlehem Shoals—who got the outcome he was rooting for all along—on the signature quote from LeBron’s post-title-clincher press conference, and what it means for the haters, the believers, and all of us in between:
"It’s about damn time" was, in a sense, ill-advised, suggesting that it had just been a matter of time. My wife grimaced when he said it. And through a certain lens, sure, it advertised a lack of humility that’s in step with a lot of the least flattering views of LeBron James. You could say the same thing about the Nike ad that aired immediately after the game; James and those invested him figured this was coming. The only question was when. Faith was never challenge, skepticism never entered the picture, and James won in the end because he was always supposed to.
What I heard, though, was that phrase reflected back on himself. When Wade spoke to the crowd, he mentioned the “embarrassment and shame” the team had felt after last year’s Finals. It wasn’t that this team felt they deserved a title or didn’t want to have to work for it. Rather, they came together to win; they were singularly engineered for this purpose. Not being able to follow through was a slap in the face and perhaps a wake-up call. I don’t suggest we feel bad for LeBron James, but he has always been in that Heat-like predicament. The pressure on him from the outset has been RINGS RINGS RINGS. “It’s about damn time.” He never publicly ran from this responsibility, at least not explicitly, and now he has finally gotten out from under a burden he willingly accepted.