"If we play the wrong way, we'll get beat - and we don't want that to happen," said 2008 U.S. Olympic basketball teammember Chris Bosh. "We want to win."
"Certainly in the locker room right now, there's enormous confidence - not the arrogant confidence, cockiness that I think did them in in Olympics past," said Sports Illustrated writer Alexander Wolff.
In 2004, a cobbled-together U.S. team didn't try all that hard according to critics. But they sure lived well on a fancy cruise ship, CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen reports.
They assumed they were the best, and instead were bested - settling for bronze.
It was time for a new plan.
"We didn't show respect to the world basketball community, and it was going to take a commitment," said Jerry Colangelo, executive director of USA Basketball.
Over a three-year period, they worked, ate and traveled together to various international competitions, evolving from individual egos into one team.
"You play for the name on the front of the jersey, U.S.A., and not the name on the back of the jersey, which is their individual names," said coach Michael Krzyzewski.
Coaching includes carefully staying on that feel-good message.
"We're playing as a team," said player Jason Kidd.
And Bosh said: "It's more about teamwork."
And video from this Olympic games shows U.S. basketball players out cheering on other American athletes, unlike the 2004 team that basically snubbed the Games.
The very first pros to play in the Olympics were called the Dream Team.
These players are dubbed the "Redeem Team," to redeem U.S. basketball's 2004 defeat.
Clyde Drexler, a 1992 Dream Team member said: "They've been beat, and they're coming back to save face. So a team with that much talent who's on a mission could be scary."
Dwyane Wade was humiliated being on the losing Olympic team in 2004, then sidelined by injuries these last two years.
This is his moment to redeem himself.
"A gold medal is … at the top of the charts," said Wade. "Yeah, it's redemption to everything that has happened."
There was a time when an American superstar team could intimidate the other side just by showing up on the Olympic basketball court. But after the loss in 2004, other teams realized the Americans could be beat. And now they're all out to do it.
"That's what they believe, and to be honest with you, that makes it fun, because now you gotta fight. You got a game," Bryant said.
F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, "there are no second acts in American lives."
Well, we know a bunch of guys out to prove him dead wrong.