CBC Sports Oral Histories: How a Basketball Team Captivated a Nation and Inspired a New Generation

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Blacksmith: After Canada qualified, I think it was fun for them to participate. I don’t think anyone knew they would be that good. That was [a] relatively new era of the dream team. So basketball at the Olympics had a bigger focus because of the American teams there.

Triano: We definitely got the players’ attention because we were 1-3 in the four games before the Olympics.

Meeks: I wish I could really say it was impressive, but the Olympics as I went about it was like another tournament. For the last 15 years before that, I didn’t let the stage prevent me from doing what I did every day.

Barrett: Whether it’s a defensive stop, a rotation, whether it’s a rebound, whether it’s a shot or a screen or whatever it is at that moment, we were very confident that our group could do it at that moment.

Meeks: [Each day] I got up, went to the weight room, was taken, had breakfast, came back to a team meeting, got on the bus, competed, went back to the village, went to dinner, came back, team meeting, went to bed, and to repeat.

It’s such a fine line when you can wear a medal around your neck or go home without it.

Canada’s opening game of the Olympic tournament was against the senior hosting team Australia.

Barrett: We had traveled to Australia the year before. We had played this team five times in our own country. We played it several times in different cities. We played in Sydney. I think we played in Adelaide. We played them so many times that we beat them. You hit us. We beat them.

Triano: I remember our sports psychologist David Cox walking into the locker room before the first game and saying, ‘We have this, we have that.’ I said, ‘What do you mean we have this?’ And he said, ‘[The Australian team] are out there signing autographs and waving to the crowd and everything. Our boys are all locked up. You have no emotions on your face. You are locked up. ‘

Barrett: I just remember, OK, we’re going to hit these guys on TV in front of the whole country like all the pressure is on them.

Blacksmith: The Australians are rabid basketball fans, and the Canadians didn’t seem to mind at all.



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