The Athletes and Sports You Can’t Miss at the Tokyo Games

3. Basketball

Perhaps you’ve heard of these guys?

The men’s basketball tournament is a foregone conclusion, right? America’s Dream Team, comprising NBA giants LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Kevin Durant, will dominate to gold-medal victory. Not so fast. As basketball becomes more international, Spain, Serbia, France, and Australia are all fielding squads that pose at least a threat to America’s on-court supremacy.

Many have forgotten that 2004’s Team USA—a team that both King James and 15-time NBA All-Star Tim Duncan played on—was only able to scrape up bronze. (Gold went to Argentina!) And two years ago, at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, the Americans were ejected by France in the quarterfinals.

In Tokyo, more than 25 percent of all competitors will be NBA players, and guys like Rudy Gobert, a 7’1″ center from France who plays for the Utah Jazz and is considered the best defender in the world, as well as Spain’s Gasol brothers, both of whom have played on teams that have won NBA titles, could send Team USA home early. Then, again, it’s not like the Dream Team is an underdog.

Skateboarder Leticia Bufoni, 5x X-Games Gold Medalist

Skateboarder Leticia Bufoni, 5x X-Games Gold Medalist
The Sporting Press

Welcome to the Cool Kid Games at the Tokyo Olympics

The newest Olympic sports roll with a certain X Games factor.

1. Skateboarding

Venue: Ariake Urban Sports Park

Know this: Five Olympics since its cold-weather cousin, snowboarding, debuted, skateboarding drops in with attitude intact. Expect USA, Brazil, and Japan to battle in both events: “Street” emphasizes freestyle use of stairs, handrails, curbs, and other grindables, while “park” plunges into deep bowls. USA’s Nyjah Huston is the male street skater to beat, and cameras will love Brazilian glam punk Leticia Bufoni.