Jose Calderon finds consolation in Spain's Olympic basketball loss
By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency
Spain's Jose Calderon says he's proud of his team's performance after losing the gold medal in men's basketball to the U.S. at the London 2012 Olympics Sunday. (REUTERS)
LONDON - Jose Calderon looked like a beaten prize fighter after the U.S. defeated his team, Spain, for the Olympic gold for the second straight Games.
The Toronto Raptors point guard sported a butterfly bandage over his right eye and looked as drained as a middleweight boxer following a 15-round title fight.
And though his voice cracked a couple of times with the disappointment of yet another loss to the Americans, Calderon beamed with pride when asked about how special this Spanish side is and how close they came to stealing the gold from the U.S.
“I think our team is different,” said Calderon. “We’ve been at it for so long, Eurobasket (champs), world champions, everything you can name and we saw that today. We’ve stayed together from the beginning, bad times, good times, but it’s the team-first always, and I love to be part of this team.”
Calderon wouldn’t speculate on his future with the Spanish team, but to many observers, the golden age of Team Spain may be coming to an end with the 2012 London Games. Calderon is 30. Pau Gasol is 32. Team captain Juan-Carlos Navarro is also 32.
“We never think about what’s going to happen in a few years or next year,” said Calderon. “I think it’s day by day. We keep playing, working together. This a great group of friends. This is a huge family. Some of us have been together for 10-12 years. We’re really proud about that.”
Calderon said the key to Spain’s success on the hardcourt over the years has been the team approach, even though there were five legitimate NBA players on this year’s squad, including one superstar in Pau Gasol.
“We put this jersey first,” Calderon said. “This name (Spain) is better than the one that is on the back.”
“You play for your country and you feel that you’re representing a lot of people and I think that’s the key,” he added. “I think we forget about the ‘Gasol’, ‘Calderon’, or whoever it is (on the back of the jersey). You play for Spain and it doesn’t matter who scores, or rebounds or who play defence, It’s team first. I think that’s the key. It happened in soccer (with the Spanish national side), it happened with us. Spain first. Our country’s team first. And that’s how you have success.”
“It’s tough,” said Calderon, when asked about nearly pulling off an upset over the U.S. “But I think we showed everybody we can still play basketball.”
After the game, almost the entire U.S. team, led by Kobe Bryant, walked over to give Pau Gasol a hug, a gesture to how hard the L.A. Lakers star played.
“It was a tough moment for me,” said Gasol. “Kobe came over to congratulate me. He gave me a hug and told me to get some rest now and to get ready for the (NBA) season. He came all the way to our bench. It was a great gesture from him.”