Ranking the 5 Worst Losses in Team USA History


Sep 7, 2023

While the USA is safely into the semifinals at this year’s FIBA World Cup, it didn’t come without a surprising sight for most basketball fans. A defeat at the hands of Lithuania was a shock for most, as Team USA rarely sees failure on the hardwood.

To jog the public’s memory, we have ranked the five worst losses in history by Team USA at international events over the years.

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1. 2004 Olympics Semifinals vs. Argentina

A name many U.S. basketball fans are familiar with, Manu Ginobili and Argentina helped sink the States in the semifinal. Team USA would settle for a bronze medal in Athens. It remains the only time in the past eight Olympics where the United States did not leave with a gold medal in men’s basketball.

2. 2004 Olympics Group Stage vs. Puerto Rico

The most significant losing margin in Team USA history was a proper gut punch for the same team that fell to Argentina later in the tournament. The 92-73 upset was never particularly close, and it set the stage for one of the more disappointing Olympic showings by America of all time.

3. 2006 FIBA World Championship semifinal vs. Greece

The poor streak of showings continued later in the 2000s after a semifinal defeat at the hands of Greece. Just a year following Mike Krzyzewski‘s appointment as Team USA head coach, it was a shock defeat to the Mediterraneans that left the USA with a bronze medal. Coach K would never lose again with Team USA, leading them to three straight Olympic gold medals.

4. 2019 FIBA World Cup quarterfinal vs. France

A few years back, a talented French squad bested the United States at the FIBA World Cup quarterfinal. Rudy Gobert dominated the paint for France, pushing the U.S. out of the tournament so early that they didn’t even receive a medal for their efforts.

5. 2002 FIBA World Championship quarterfinal vs. Yugoslavia

It was a disastrous showing in George Karl‘s only tournament as Team USA head coach. A Yugoslavian bunch led by Peja Stojakovic and Vlade Divac got the best of an underwhelming Team USA that would bow out of the tournament before a chance to medal.

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Thumbnail photo via RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

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