Team USA has never really been down with the Olympic Village and 2016 will be no different.
The boys are too famous, too tall, too rich, and the Olympic Village is oftentimes considered too unsafe. So it should come as no surprise that every squad since the ‘92 Dream Team has opted out of the athlete accommodations provided by the IOC in favor of something slightly more upscale. This year they’ll be staying on the Silver Cloud Cruise Ship, along with the women’s team. The ship has a library and a casino, and suites usually goes for about $13,000 a week, according to reports from the Daily Mail.
It’s not like any of the players would be worried about covering the fee but luckily USA Basketball picks up the tab for the luxury housing. Craig Miller, a spokesman for USA Basketball, who claims superstars like Carmelo, KD, and Kyrie don’t stay in the Olympic Village “because we don't feel it's the best way to prepare for competition.”
The last time the boys stayed on a yacht was in 2004, when they boarded the Queen Mary 2 in Athens. And it was as lavish as the one they’re in now. Lisa Leslie, member of the USA women’s team that year, told the LA Times about the hookup on the yacht, where the women also stayed:
“The accommodations are wonderful, very contemporary. Food is provided for you 24 hours a day. There is also a spa; they offer facials, massages and pedicures and they have a workout room where I can go lift weights…they have a pool and Jacuzzi. The food is catered. You can get anything—Chinese, turkey and chicken, hamburgers and French fries.”
While Leslie was loving life in Athens, Carmelo wasn’t into it. “We was stuck on a boat,” Anthony said of the experience. But that bitterness maybe is rooted in the fact that coach Larry Brown reportedly hated the ‘04 squad. Embarrassingly, it earned bronze.
The other years the team did not stay in the village, they shacked up in remote hotels. And while it might seem like we’re going in on the boujie digs, the team has answered the press’ criticism over their housing decisions pretty much every year that they’ve taken part in the Olympics. For one thing, they’re simply too famous for their own good.
"You've got to understand, it's very much like traveling with 12 rock stars," the late coach Chuck Daly said after the original Dream Team was mobbed upon arriving in Barcelona. The same thing happened in 2008 when Team USA—featuring the likes of LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and Dwight Howard—stepped down to the level of the normal international athletes and stayed in the Olympic Village. Predictably, they got "bum-rushed going into the village," according to Carmelo.
Plus they’re all just way too big for regular person Olympic housing.
staying on the ship, which maximizes security for the Games' most high profile athletes, also allows them to spend more time with those who ventured from the U.S. to Rio.
The beds in the Athletes Village can be comically small for basketball players. In 2012, Olympic hurdler and bobsledder Lolo Jones tweeted a picture of 7’1” Tyson Chandler in one of the 5’8” long beds in the Olympic Village. To put things into perspective, even Kyle Lowry, the shortest guy on the team this year at 6′0″, wouldn’t fit into one of those beds.
"Please find me a room they can fit in," Daly said after not being able to get 7-footers David Robinson or Patrick Ewing into somewhere reasonable in '92.
Miller also noted that staying on the ship, which maximizes security for the Games' most high profile athletes, also allows them to spend more time with those who ventured from the U.S. to Rio to suppor them. "The players have a long professional season and they want to spend as much time as possible with family and friends," said Miller.
But where they’re staying or why they’re staying doesn’t matter as much as getting that gold. At least we hope.