BEIJING Deron Williams has bought into the Olympics big time.
As the U.S. men's basketball team looked to conclude its Beijing Games gold-medal run early today against Spain, the point guard whose regular-season job is leading the Utah Jazz suggested maybe winning an Olympics gold tops winning an NBA title.
Certainly when you're part of the star-studded U.S. roster that includes names like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony, claiming the gold sure is a lot easier.
"I've been waiting for this for two years," Williams said. "The guys who were on the '04 team have been waiting for four years really a lifetime for this opportunity.
"This is special," he continued. "D-Wade said it might be better than winning an NBA championship."
And D-Will followed D-Wade's lead in agreeing.
"I think so," he said. "It's once every four years, and an NBA championship is every year. And this is against the rest of the world, so it shows you're the best in the world, not just the NBA. And I think the country part is significant."
Remember, this is coming from a man who, when announced to the Olympics roster in June, kept repeating the phrase "representing" USA basketball and the United States. And a man who after his first Olympics game said he was "even more humbled" by his selection to "represent" the United States.
But before you pass the U.S./Jazz point guard off as a meek, passive participant, understand he can dish out confidence as easy as an assist pass to teammate Carlos Boozer.
It's evident when he's asked just who could stop the favored American team.
"Us if we don't come out and play," Williams said. "But I don't see that happening. The only team that can beat us is us that's how we've felt from day one. If we bring it on defense, I don't think anybody can beat us."
A common refrain echoed by Williams, Boozer and their teammates are the sacrifices made this summer.
For Williams, he's witnessed a sacrifice of superstar egos.
"We've played the ultimate team basketball," he said. "We've sacrificed for the greater good of the team. We've dominated offensively and defensively there's no better way to go out than to win this gold medal on Sunday."
And Boozer reflected on other personal sacrifices.
"This is what we've been waiting on," he said. "This is what we sacrificed our summers for, what we sacrificed spending time with our families for, and we're two days away from reaching our goal, and we're going to go after it with everything we've got all our might."
Which might be scary, considering the margins of victories already to date first, in preliminary-pool play, a humane-like 21 points against winless Angola, 23 against Greece, 31 against China, 37 against Spain and 49 against Germany.
And in the medal round against tougher opponents 20 against Australia in the quarterfinals and 31 against defending Olympic champion Argentina in the semifinals, leading up to today's gold-medal game, a rematch against Group B partner Spain.
"We're ready for anything," said Boozer of the second matchup against the Spaniards. "You can see that by the different styles from teams that have already played us. We'll be ready for anything they throw at us."
And Williams says Beijing hasn't seen America's best yet."We still haven't shot lights-out," he said, "and we can still play better."