Eh, that was when the US didn't really care about trying, they assumed they'd win. One of the many losses (Puerto Rico comes to mind a couple years prior) that the US had no business losing, and caused a dramatic reshuffling of the US Basketball program. Honestly, I'm not even sure if we had a program beforehand, or if guys started calling around in May to see who wanted to play in June.
Like seriously, the US used to send amateur players to compete and win against the best players in the world
They only lost 2 ever, the first time the Soviets rigged the game in Berlin, the second time we started sending real players afterwards (AKA Dream Team). We were so far ahead of the world that we weren't even sending our best players and still winning. Sabonis and Drazen the GODS and the Euro explosion of the early 90's happened, we started reacted by turning up the heat a little bit.
It took 15 years for the world to adjust, and we didn't adjust. We just assumed talent would always trump teamwork. Now, we have 30 person camps every year in Vegas for full practices with the NBA's best. Kobe can't go? Well send in the younger guy who's been practicing with us for the last couple years.
It's kinda embarrassing the ego the team had, but things finally seem to be set right. I look forward to maybe the 2020's when the world catches up to us again, who knows what kind of changes will have to be made then. Or maybe we'll struggle to replace Coangelo after he steps down? Who will be the next coach after Coach K? etc...