It's disappointing but unsurprising, it's been coming for a while. Unlike in 2002 when they lost at home, the shock to me was much greater back then because it was only 10 years removed from the Dream Team beating all comers by 30-50 points a game. I remember watching the Barcelona Olympics and the Angolans all wanted pictures with the Dream Team before and after that opening game and the only team that really wasn't intimidated by playing us was Yugoslavia and Drazen Petrovic, but we had too much quality for them. This time I could see it coming, once they lost to Australia and barely beat Turkey.
It's easy to criticize this team as being flawed or lacking talent, at least they had the guts and desire to play for their country when so many dropped out to either protect their health, their brand or just didn't want to play in what they considered a Mickey Mouse tournament (which a lot of fans did as well, incidentally). I'm proud of the guys who went there to fly the flag for our country, they just weren't good enough to win at the end of the day but they can hold their heads high in terms of their effort and how they were willing to risk their reputations, health and damage to their brands. But clearly there were flaws in selection - Plumlee and Lopez were passengers and Turner had to shoulder too heavy a burden as our only big - but end of day these were the best we had available to choose from.
I don't see any point talking about woulda, coulda, shoulda with the elite players - they chose not to be there for their own reasons, whether it was because they thought it was a meaningless tournament, or because they wanted a summer off, or because the appeal of representing the USA was less than representing the team that paid their salary. And that's understandable. I'll wager quite a few fans were happy they didn't suit up either, because then they are fresh for the NBA which is what they're really interested in. In a sport where our professional league is seen as more important than national representation we will always have that challenge of getting players interested enough to risk their health and reputations for little return other than pride in representing your country. Having lived in Europe and Australia I've noticed those countries see international representation as the pinnacle of their careers, not just in basketball but in whatever sports they play, it's just a difference in perspective to the US where sometimes we have an arrogance about things and don't feel the need to beat down on international teams to prove we're the best (or in some cases we're the best because we're the only ones who play a particular sport
It's not like Team USA has been roflstomping the opposition in the recent past either, in Rio in 2016 we beat France by 3 points and that was only because Klay went into beast mode and scored 30 points and we had KD, Kyrie and a whole bunch of other All Stars. We beat Serbia by 3 points in the prelim rounds as well, and beat Spain by 6. The world is catching up. Back in 1992 there were 26 foreign born players in the NBA and a number of those (Ewing, Olajuwon) ended up playing for the US anyway. Last year there were 118 foreign born players in the NBA. The gap is closing and the fear factor has been gone for a while. And in a win or go home type tournament it comes down to who plays well on the day. In this case we fell short.
I think the guys who showed up to play can hold their heads high, they competed and that's all that could be asked of them. Just weren't good enough to win. The one sad thing is that they most likely won't get to make amends next year - I'm guessing the Team USA lineup will be considerably different to the one that went to this World Cup. It would be nice to see some kind of vindication story for this Team USA, and for our Celtics. But that's the way the cookie crumbles.