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#pounditSaturday, March 25, 2023

These two NBA stars played vital role in recruiting players to Team USA

Kevin Durant

Despite an already compressed summer and restrictive protocols, Team USA managed to put together a star-studded men’s basketball roster for the delayed Summer Olympics in Tokyo. That is apparently largely down to two star players who helped recruit other big names.

A deep dive into the construction of the Olympic roster by Brian Windhorst of ESPN revealed that Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, two of Team USA’s earliest commitments, used their influence within the NBA to convince a number of other key players to join the team. Both players also consulted with Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo and coach Gregg Popovich to determine the construction of the roster.

Lillard was key in recruiting Draymond Green to the team. He also had a significant role in getting Jayson Tatum to sign on, as Tatum was also partially convinced by the strength of the team. Both Lillard and Durant were instrumental in lobbying Popovich to add Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant to one of the last roster spots, with Grant badly wanting a place on the team.

Notably, the selection of Kevin Love was down to Popovich. While Love’s inclusion was criticized in some quarters, Popovich liked Love’s versatility and shooting ability, two major priorities when it came to building the roster.

It would have been very easy for top players to pass on the Olympics given the logistical difficulties involved in taking part. Ultimately, Durant and Lillard were able to convince the aforementioned players, as well as other key names such as Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, to sign on. Thanks in part to those efforts, the Americans will be heavy favorites to claim another gold medal.


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