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Team USA basketball: A definitive timeline of everything that’s happened in the NBA since the last U.S. loss 13 years ago

Those who stayed up into the wee hours of the morning on Saturday to watch Team USA take on Australia in an exhibition game ahead of the 2019 FIBA World Cup were given quite the shock. Led by Patty Mills, who poured in 30 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, Australia took down the U.S. 98-94. The Aussies secured their first-ever win over the Americans, and ended Team USA’s 13-year, 78-game winning streak. 

Prior to Saturday morning, the last loss for Team USA in a major tournament or exhibition game was in the semifinals of the 2006 world championship to Greece. The U.S. bounced back to defeat Argentina in the bronze medal game, and hasn’t lost since. In the ensuing years, Team USA has racked up gold medals at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics, the 2010 and 2014 World Cup as well as the 2007 and 2017 FIBA AmeriCup. 

So even though there wasn’t anything at stake in the exhibition loss to Australia, it was still a historic loss. It will be interesting to see how this version of Team USA responds to the defeat as it heads into the World Cup, which will begin for the U.S. on Sept. 1 against the Czech Republic. If Gregg Popovich’s squad are able to bounce back and take home the gold medal, they’ll make the United States the first country to ever three-peat at the competition. 

But we still have a few days until the competition gets under way, so while we wait, let’s take a trip down memory lane to remember what’s happened in the NBA since Team USA’s last loss all those years ago. 

What was going on in the NBA in 2006?

The exact date of Team USA’s last loss was Sept. 1, 2006, when it suffered a 101-95 defeat to Greece. Here’s a look at the state of the NBA at the time of that defeat. That season saw the implementation of the new dress code by then-commissioner David Stern, the Bobcats’ first season in Charlotte and the Hornets split their season between New Orleans and Oklahoma City due to Hurricane Katrina. In the Finals, the Heat took down the Mavericks for their first title in franchise history in a contentious, controversial series. A few months later, the one-and-done rule was implemented for the first time with the 2006 NBA Draft.

  • NBA Champions: Miami Heat
  • MVP: Steve Nash
  • Rookie of the Year: Chris Paul
  • Scoring champion: Kobe Bryant
  • Defensive Player of the Year: Ben Wallace
  • First-Team All-NBA: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Shaquille O’Neal

A lot has happened in the NBA between now and September 2006. Below is a timeline of the league’s biggest and most memorable moments since Team USA suffered its last loss 13 years ago:

May 2008 — Garnett, Allen help Celtics to NBA title

Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were traded to the Celtics ahead of the 2008 season, and together with Paul Pierce they formed one of the first superteams of the modern era. In their first season together, they helped the Celtics defeat the Lakers in a rematch of the classic rivalry. The title was No. 17 for the Celtics, which is still a record. 

July 2008 — SuperSonics leave Seattle for Oklahoma City, become Thunder

After 41 seasons in Seattle, the SuperSonics were sold to Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett. With the city unwilling to use public funds to build a new stadium, Bennett relocated the franchise to Oklahoma City, where they became the Thunder. As part of the deal, the new ownership group had to pay a $45 million settlement with the city of Seattle, and the name and logos of the SuperSonics were left behind for a hypothetical future team in Seattle. Once in OKC, the team was renamed the Thunder.

July 2010 — The Decision

In one of the biggest summers of free agency in NBA history, the Miami Heat formed a legendary superteam when LeBron James and Chris Bosh arrived to join Dwyane Wade. James made his announcement on a live TV special on ESPN dubbed “The Decision,” which will go down as a landmark event in the league’s history. He was branded a traitor by many in Cleveland for leaving his hometown Cavaliers, and there was plenty of controversy over how he handled the announcement. 

July 2011 — NBA lockout

In 2011, the NBA grinded to a halt with the fourth lockout in league history. The primary dispute between the players and owners involved the division of revenue, which was tilted heavily in favor of ownership. After 161 days, the two sides agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which was ratified on Dec. 8, 2011. Players won improvements in revenue sharing, getting a 51.2 percent split, while other changes were made to the luxury tax and salary cap. Play began on Christmas Day, and the season was shortened to 66 games. 

December 2011 — ‘Basketball reasons’

When the new CBA was ratified on Dec. 8, 2011, the Hornets, Lakers and Rockets agreed to a blockbuster three-team trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers. Then-NBA commissioner David Stern stepped in to nullify the deal, for “basketball reasons.” Stern and the league were in charge of the Hornets at the time after taking over the team from previous Hornets owner George Shinn, which gave them the power to make a final decision on the deal. In the aftermath of Stern’s controversial ruling, the Hornets traded Paul to the Clippers.  

November 2012 — Nets begin new era in Brooklyn

With the completion of the Barclays Center, the Nets to Brooklyn, ending their 35-year run in New Jersey. They became the first professional sports team to play in Brooklyn since Major League Baseball’s Dodgers moved from the borough to Los Angeles. 

April 2013 — Jason Collins makes history

In April of 2013, veteran big man Jason Collins wrote a first-person story for Sports Illustrated in which he came out as gay, becoming the first male professional athlete to publicly do so. 

April 2014 — Sterling banned from NBA for life

Near the end of the 2014 season, the NBA opened an investigation into Clippers owner Donald Sterling after audio recordings were released of him making racist comments. Clippers players and coaches spoke out after the news broke, and nearly boycotted Game 4 of their first-round playoff series with the Warriors. Following the conclusion of their investigation, NBA commissioner Adam Silver — who had taken the job just a few months earlier — banned Sterling for life, fined him $2.5 million and began proceedings to force the sale of the team. Later that summer, the Clippers would be sold to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.

July 2014 — LeBron returns to Cleveland

After spending four seasons with the Heat, during which he won two MVPs, two Finals MVPs and two titles, LeBron returned home, signing with the Cavaliers during the summer of 2014. His decision came just a few months after the Cavaliers won the No. 1 overall pick for the second season in a row, and selected Andrew Wiggins. Following LeBron’s decision to return to the Cavaliers, the team traded Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, whom they picked No. 1 overall in 2013, to the Timberwolves for Kevin Love. Together, LeBron, Love and Kyrie Irving formed yet another new Big Three. 

August 2014 — Spurs hire NBA’s first female full-time coach

Following her retirement from the WNBA after that league’s 2014 season, Becky Hammon joined the Spurs as an assistant coach, becoming the first woman to be a full-time coach in any major professional sport. 

June 2015 — Warriors’ dynasty wins first title, Curry wins first MVP

Steph Curry and Co. broke through in the 2014-15 season. Curry put together a phenomenal season to win his first MVP Award, and then led his team to the franchise’s first title since 1975. They took down LeBron James and the Cavaliers, beginning a rivalry that would see the teams face each other in four straight Finals. 

April 2016 — Kobe Bryant retires

The longtime Lakers legend announced prior to the 2015-16 season that it would be his last in the NBA. After 20 seasons and five titles, he ended his career with a 60-point effort against the Jazz in his final game, becoming the oldest player in NBA history to score 60 points. 

2015-16 — Warriors win 73 games

Coming off their 2015 title, the Warriors set an NBA record by starting out the 2015-16 season 24-0. They went on to break the 1995-96 Bulls‘ regular-season win record, finishing with a 73-9 record. They also made history as the first team to complete a season without losing consecutive games. The Finals, of course, would not go so well for them. 

June 2016 — Cavs complete historic Finals comeback for first title

In the second meeting between the two teams in the Finals, the Warriors took a 3-1 lead over the Cavaliers, and looked to be cruising toward their second straight title and the completion of one of the greatest seasons in NBA history. But late in their Game 4 win, Draymond Green swung his arm into LeBron James’ groin during an incident between the two players. Assessed a flagrant foul, Green was suspended for Game 5, which the Cavaliers won on the road to begin their comeback. In Game 7, with the series tied 3-3, Kyrie Irving hit what would be the game-winning 3-pointer to help give the Cavaliers their first title in franchise history. They also became the first team to come back from 3-1 down in the NBA Finals. 

July 2016 — Durant joins Warriors

During the summer of 2016, just a few weeks after their collapse in the Finals, the Warriors got a major boost when Kevin Durant decided to leave the Thunder and sign there as a free agent. It was one of the most controversial moves in recent NBA history, and gave the Warriors one of the greatest collections of talent the league has ever seen.

2016-17 — Westbrook makes triple-double history

After Durant’s departure to the Warriors, Westbrook was left as the main man on the Thunder, and took on an incredible burden. He became a one-man wrecking crew in the regular season, setting all sorts of triple-double records. He became the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double for the season, and surpassed Robertson’s record of triple-doubles in a season, finishing with 42. Westbrook has since gone on to average triple doubles in each of the last two seasons as well, becoming the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double in three straight seasons. 

2017, 2018 — Warriors get revenge, win two straight titles

With Kevin Durant on board, the Warriors got revenge on the Cavaliers in the 2017 Finals, then repeated in 2018, winning their second straight title, and third in four years. The Warriors lost just one game combined in the two matchups, cruising past LeBron James and the overmatched Cavaliers. 

July 2018 — LeBron leaves Cleveland again

After leading the Cavaliers to four straight trips to the Finals, and one title in 2016, LeBron James broke the city’s heart again in 2018 when he decided to leave in free agency to join the Lakers. He signed a four-year, $153 million deal with the team. His first season with the team was a disappointment, however, as they missed the playoffs amid all sorts of off-court drama. 

2019 — Leonard leads Raptors to first title, ends Warriors dynasty

With LeBron James in the West and out of the way on a weak Lakers team, the Warriors were big favorites to capture their third straight title and fourth in five years in 2019. But Kawhi Leonard had other ideas. Traded to the Raptors in the summer of 2018 in a blockbuster deal, Leonard led the Raptors to their first title in franchise history. Hampered by injuries to Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, the Warriors weren’t able to keep up, and suffered their second Finals defeat in five years. 

June-July 2019 — NBA sees major shakeup in wild summer

This summer’s free agency period was one of the wildest in NBA history, with numerous All-Stars changing teams. Kevin Durant left the Warriors after three seasons to join the Nets, where he was joined by Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan. Anthony Davis was traded to the Lakers in a blockbuster deal, the Thunder sent Paul George to the Clippers in another major trade, and the Rockets and Thunder swapped Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. Kawhi Leonard took his talents to Los Angeles to join the Clippers, Jimmy Butler is off to the Heat, Kemba Walker is now on the Celtics, Al Horford signed with the Sixers and D’Angelo Russell moved to the Warriors.