In just a few days this has become an iconic image all around Australia and anyone who watched that bronze medal game the other night will find it hard to look at without a teary eye. Two mates, two comrades, two warriors who finally saw their hard work bear fruit and the cards fall their way as the first Aussie basketball team to have the honour of taking home an Olympic medal.
I read one newspaper article that said It was the’ bronze medal that felt like gold’ and when you watched the Aussie boys on the podium, the joy they showed and the comradeship with one another, that was the message that came thru. Contrast that with the Americans who seemed fairly nonchalant and you realise how significant this moment was.
Personally, I have been watching these guys since 1976, when there was minimal TV footage of basketball games, when Phil Smyth, Ray Borner and Larry Sengstock carried the team. The Gaze years were strong and ever hopeful, but we just couldn’t get there and then there was that double overtime heart break against Spain when we looked every bit a world class team, but luck was against us. We just seemed to be ‘that team’ constantly dogged by bad luck.
As I sat down to watch the bronze medal game on Saturday night my heart was literally beating faster, hoping that this might be the year – hoping we wouldn’t have a sleepy spell like we did against the Americans two days prior. Jerry Seinfeld has a sketch where he mocks the ‘we won!’ line that spectators often cry when their team does well. ‘You didn’t win – you watched‘, he says. Well on Saturday night Seinfeld was wrong. I know I was one of thousands of hopeful Australian spectators sitting on the edge of their seats wishing their team to their first ever Olympic medal. I know I have walked the road every 4 years of devotedly watching them when they were abysmal as well as watching when they finally made it to the bronze of the podium. I don’t get animated easily but that night the whole caravan park new that ‘WE WON!’ because WE did and it was glorious!
Two steps to go and whether we get there or not is kinda not the point. WE did win and we can be incredibly proud of a bunch of men who modelled for us teamwork and comradeship.