The Brooklyn Nets star, 32, captained USA to their 16th basketball gold, ensuring America continued to stand tall in the sport, scoring 29 points.
Durant was overjoyed and ran around the court with the stars and stripes draped over his shoulders
Victory was all the more sweeter for the US who, in their initial group game in Japan, were crushed 83-76 by the French, the European’s first ever victory against America and the US’s first defeat in 30 matches.
Kevin Durant of the United States celebrates after winning the gold medal match against France wearing the Stars & Stripes
United States’ Kevin Durant (7) drives around France’s Rudy Gobert (27) during men’s basketball gold medal game at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Saturday
United States’ players celebrate after their win in the men’s basketball gold medal game against France
Team United States celebrates following their victory over France in the Men’s Basketball Finals
USA’s Edrice Femi Adebayo celebrates with the flag of the USA their victory in the men’s final basketball match
France’s Nando de Colo (12) reacts during men’s basketball gold medal game against the United States at the Olympics
United States’ Kevin Durant (7) celebrates after their win in the men’s basketball gold medal game
Kevin Wayne Durant carries national flag while celebrating his team’s win in the men’s final basketball match between France and USA
Kevin Durant led Team USA’s victory over France in the men’s basketball final in Tokyo on Saturday, avenging a first-round loss and claiming a 16th gold for the country in the sport
The French proved tough opponents as they struck an early lead but as the teams went into the final quarter, the US had turned things round and led 71-63.
The US success meant France were the runners-up for the third time and on each occasion, they have lost the gold medal to America.
Coach Gregg Popovich had denied the US superstars had come to Japan without full commitment.
‘From day one they realized that they really wanted to be here. These guys all sacrificed … it was a tough season, with Covid and everything.’
Team US showed nothing but heart and determination as they showed once again who the kings of Olympic basketball are as they ran out winners 87-82.
Milwaukee Bucks’ Jrue Holiday, who clinched the NBA title in July said:’ Two days after we won we had to fly out here, so it’s definitely a great summer. But I gotta get to the point where I can actually enjoy it.
He paid tribute to Durant and said: ‘Beng on his team now has been pretty cool to see – how he carries the game, carries his teammates and takes over a game.
Team mate Bam Adebayo also talked of the leadership shown by Durant.
He said: ‘ (he is)’Phenomenal. The thing I like about Kevin the most, he’s one of the greatest scorers in our league but also he’s a genuine person.
‘People try to bash him in the media but he’s one of those guys that got your back 24/7. Being around him, being around this group of guys, we created a brotherhood.’
Javale McGee, whose mother Pamela won gold in 1984, added: ‘It’s an amazing feeling man. I got a gold medal, my mother’s got a gold medal.
‘You can’t really explain it, just knowing you’re the best in the world.
‘If that don’t add to the resume, I don’t know what will. It’s a family resume. That’s what it’s all about, in the end, is family.’
Numerous Twitter users crowned Kevin Durant as ‘Captain America’ following the USA win over France in the basketball
United States’ Kevin Durant (7), right, and Jayson Tatum (10) celebrate during men’s basketball gold medal game against France at the 2020 Summer Olympics
Durant, who in these Games surpassed Carmelo Anthony as the United States’ highest career scorer, led with 29 points in the 87-82 victory at the Saitama Super Arena
Durant draped the American flag over his shoulders following Team USA’s victory
United States’ Damian Lillard (6), left, and France’s Moustapha Fall (93) fight for a loose ball during men’s basketball
United States’ Kevin Durant (7) chases the ball during men’s basketball gold medal game against France
United States players celebrate with teammates after winning the gold medal match against France
Kevin Durant of the United States in action with Rudy Gobert of France and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot of France
USA’s Kevin Wayne Durant (2L) looks for a play past France’s Frank Ntilikina (2R) in the men’s final basketball match between France and USA
Rudy Gobert of France in action with Khris Middleton of the United States and Kevin Durant of the United States
United States forward Kevin Durant #7, takes a jump shot, during the Men’s Basketball finals at the Tokyo Olympic Games
France center Rudy Gobert #27, dunks the ball during the Men’s Basketball finals at the Tokyo Olympic Games in Tokyo
Durant said of his third gold: ‘This one feels good because we went through a lot. We had a lot of first-time guys on the team, new experience for everyone on the team, Covid, the kind of bubble we were in, no fans, no one expecting us to lose.
‘We heard it all over the past few weeks about our team. To fight through this adversity against a great team like these guys … to come together so fast – it was beautiful to see, it was beautiful to be a part of.’
‘I’m so proud of this team. The coaching staff prepared us so well every single day, even some days when we didn’t feel like practicing but it was worth it at the end. I’m so glad. I’m ready to go home and celebrate.
‘I love our country and this team is just amazing, it’s just incredible.
‘How we came together. The adversity that we went through, so many people doubting us early on too. We get that support from our families, our friends, you know it’s bigger than us. We wanted to come here finish it and look alive.’
Durant joined Carmelo Anthony as the only three-time men’s gold medalists in Olympic history to win the title at the Tokyo Games – ending a summer that started with sputters but closed with celebration.
Durant sealed it with two free throws with 8.8 seconds left, making the outcome academic. The lead was five, France’s final possession was irrelevant, and it was over.
The U.S. players gathered for a hug at midcourt, Durant, Bam Adebayo and Draymond Green wrapped themselves in American flags, and the journey was complete.
Jayson Tatum finished with 19 points, Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday each scored 11 for the U.S.
Evan Fournier and Rudy Gobert each scored 16 for France, which now has four silver medals – all coming after gold-medal-game losses to the U.S. Guerschon Yabusele scored 13, Nando de Colo had 12 and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 11 for France.
Frank Ntilikina´s 3-pointer got France within 73-70 with 5:42 left, but the U.S. had a quick answer – a 9-2 run that restored a 10-point lead on Tatum´s 3-pointer.
United States’ players celebrate after their win in the men’s basketball gold medal game against France
Jayson Tatum (C) of the US and teammates celebrate after winning the Men’s Basketball final between France and USA
Kevin Durant scored 29 points and joined Carmelo Anthony as the only three-time men´s gold medalists in Olympic history
From there, it was just a matter of finishing the job. The summer started with two exhibition losses, the Olympics started with a loss to France, and none of that seemed to matter much at the end.
The mission was accomplished: Gold, again – the 16th time in 19 Olympic tries for the U.S.
For some, it adds to family legacies. Jrue Holiday now is an Olympic gold medalist, just like his wife Lauren was twice with the U.S. women’s national soccer team.
JaVale McGee now has Olympic gold, just like his mother Pamela won with the U.S. women in basketball at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
For Milwaukee Bucks teammates Holiday and Khris Middleton, it’s admission into a rare club: Before now, only Scottie Pippen (who did it twice), Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving had won an NBA title and Olympic gold in the same year.
Durant sealed the win with two free throws with 8.8 seconds left, making the outcome academic
Kevin Durant #7 of Team United States reaches for the ball against Nicolas Batum #5 of Team France during the second half of a Men’s Basketball Finals game on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena
Kevin Durant #7 of Team United States goes up for a dunk against Rudy Gobert #27 of Team France
Kevin Durant of the United States is seen in action during the France v United States game
Kevin Durant #7 of Team United States looks to pass the ball as Frank Ntilikina #1 of Team France defends during the second half of a Men’s Basketball Finals game on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
France’s Nicolas Batum and USA’s Kevin Wayne Durant (L) talk after France’s defeat in the men’s final basketball match
And for U.S. coach Gregg Popovich, it completes an Olympic journey that started a half-century ago. He was playing for the United States Air Force Academy, tried unsuccessfully to make the 1972 U.S. Olympic team- ‘the powers that be actually selected Doug Collins instead of me, it´s hard to believe,’ Popovich joked earlier this summer – then accepted the task of replacing Mike Krzyzewski as the U.S. coach for this Olympic cycle.
‘Being part of the Olympics has been a dream,’ Popovich said.
The U.S. missed its first eight 3-point tries before Durant got one to drop with 2:04 left in the opening quarter, starting what became a 21-8 run by the Americans on the way to a 39-26 lead midway through the second quarter.
France responded, closing the half on a 13-5 spurt and getting within 44-39 at the break, then within two early in the third quarter.
And after the U.S. briefly led by 14, Nicolas Batum – who saved his team with a last-second block to close out a win over Slovenia in the semifinals – beat the third-quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer that cut the U.S. lead to 71-63 entering the fourth.
France’s Timothe Luwawu Kongbo grabs a rebound over United States’ Bam Adebayo, left, during the men’s basketball gold medal game
USA’s Kevin Wayne Durant carries national flag while celebrating his team’s win as Devin Booker (L) watches
United States forward Kevin Durant #7, drives to the basket around France shooting guard Nando de Colo #12, during the Men’s Basketball finals
United States small forward Jayson Tatum #10, passes around France center Rudy Gobert #27, during the Men’s Basketball
Team United States drives to the basket against Evan Fournier #10 of Team France during the second half of the game
France’s and USA’s players congratulate each other after USA’s victory in the men’s final basketball match
Evan Fournier of France and Rudy Gobert of France look dejected after the match