How the past is driving the Boomers' golden generation forward

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In 1996, prior to the Atlanta Olympics Games, Shane Heal lofted yet another 3-point attempt, this time from the left wing, that splashed through the nylon. Perhaps the defining image for a generation was Heal running back down the court, chest-to-chest with a hulking Charles Barkley, after the Dream Team power forward had undercut the diminutive nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The Boomers were the avatar of pluckiness; they punched well above their weight. And they earned the respect of the world, grabbing fourth-place finishes in consecutive Olympics, at Atlanta and Sydney, to tie with Seoul as their best-ever placing at a major tournament. Along the way, the names of Andrew Gaze, Luc Longley, Chris Anstey, Mark Bradtke, Heal and countless others would inspire a generation.

Fast-forward two decades later and the defining image of this generation is perhaps that of the Boomers leading Team USA early in the fourth-quarter in Rio, only for some heroics from Carmelo Anthony to deny them a famous victory. Afterward, a defiant Andrew Bogut would proclaim there were no moral victories, thus, foreshadowing a more aggressive psyche of the national team.

Or perhaps the indelible image is that of heartache and lancing pain for the Boomers in the aftermath of a heartbreaking 89-88 loss to Spain, in the bronze medal playoff in Carioca Arena. The Boomers' first major tournament medal was within its grasp. A string of moments would conspire to deny them -- the arm-bar foul call on Aron Baynes, the foul call on Patty Mills, then the last-gasp effort to conjure a game-winning shot that ultimately failed as time expired.4

To fully grasp the enormity of it all, only days earlier, the Boomers were lauded as potential worthy gold-medal combatants against Team USA. A single slip-up in the tournament -- a shellacking at the hands of Serbia in the semifinal -- relegated them to the bronze playoff, and the cruel, numbing fortunes of sport.

Afterward, in the sanctuary of the locker room, free from prying eyes, the Boomers would take their time to quietly reflect upon what had just happened.

While it's clear those memories still seethe beneath the surface, providing the Boomers with ample motivation, the Rio experience -- their most recent major tournament together -- has also proven to be instructive as a self-reflexive exercise.

"All in all, it was a huge step forward for us, even though we finished fourth," Bogut says. "I think we sent a clear message that we're going into tournaments to try to win. I think our mindset nfl jerseys china nike

"Even though we finished fourth, guys now know that playing for the national team is no longer for s---s and giggles -- we're going out there to win a medal."

Bogut is often credited with shifting the psyche of the senior team from aspirational go-getters to genuine medal contenders. This Boomers' core -- this team that will compete at the World Cup -- truly believes they can beat the best. Their historic victory over Team USA on Saturday in Melbourne only serves to strengthen that resolve.

The metamorphosis, over time, from plucky overachievers to elite status within the world pecking order, is an inflection point to be examined. If currency within international basketball is measured with NBA representation, the Boomers are an ascendant team. This is their golden generation. For a time, Bogut was the lone bastion of Australian representation within the NBA. When he first entered the league, Australian players were a relative unknown quantity -- Luc Longley had retired by 2001. Outside of Longley, the Australian presence had been fleeting.

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