More than all this, though, young Spaniards born during the decade between their country's hosting of the 1982 World Cup and the 1992 Olympics think differently than their predecessors. A few years ago Nike ran an ad campaign featuring Gasol and a half-dozen national team soccer players. Read the tagline: BEING SPANISH IS NO LONGER AN EXCUSE. IT'S A RESPONSIBILITY. Today for the Spanish, sporting success is no longer a responsibility. It's an expectation.
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Check out Ben Reiter's 50 parting thoughts from the World Cup at SI.com/reiter