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#pounditSaturday, December 5, 2020

Articles tagged: Team USA Basketball

Gregg Popovich, Jerry Colangelo commit to Team USA through Olympic postponement

Gregg Popovich

It is unclear if USA Basketball head coach Gregg Popovich is going to coach the team beyond the Tokyo Olympics, but he is going to ride out the coronavirus epidemic for as long as necessary.

USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said Tuesday that both he and Popovich will remain with the team in 2021, which is when the Tokyo Olympics are expected to take place. The Summer Games have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“The commitments everyone made for 2020 are still there, we’re all in and we’re committed,” Colangelo said, via ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. “It’s important to deal with the unknowns and this virus. This too shall pass and we’ll be back for everyone’s well being.”

Team USA training was scheduled to begin July 4 with the Olympics starting July 24, but the Tokyo Games were postponed this week. A new date for the Olympics has not been announced, and it’s possible there could be some scheduling conflicts depending upon if and when the NBA resumes its 2019-20 season. Colangelo admitted that could be a potential issue.

“We will follow the leader. We have to wait to see how everything is laid out and we’ll make the adjustment,” Colangelo said. “Our players are NBA players first, let’s face that. … Changing the window for the NBA is easier said than done. There’s a lot of logistics and contracts to deal with. Same for the Olympics. You have to assume it will be around the same dates.”

Popovich has not yet committed to coaching in the NBA beyond this season, but it makes sense that both he and Colangelo are sticking with Team USA as long as necessary. The coronavirus outbreak has impacted the entire sports calendar. No one could have seen it coming.

Tony Parker reacts to France snapping USA’s international win streak

Tony Parker Hornets

The USA Basketball Men’s National Team were finally unable to escape a game with their impressive win streak intact on Wednesday, as they fell to France and were eliminated from the 2019 FIBA World Cup. While France’s 89-79 win may not have been all that much of an upset, the reactions proved that most expected a different outcome.

One of those reactions came from Tony Parker, who is one of the most recognizable players in French basketball history. The former San Antonio Spur was clearly thrilled with France’s win even though his former coach, Gregg Popovich, is the coach of Team USA.

Parker won four NBA championships playing under Popovich, so he probably had some mixed emotions. Still, the moment was a huge one for France. USA entered the game with a 58-game win streak in major international competitions, which tells you all you need to know.

Numerous players opted not to play for Team USA this summer, and some of them were criticized for their decisions. The team was unable to match the chemistry of a squad like France, whose players had been playing together in international competition for years. If star NBA players opt out of the 2020 Olympics the same way they did with the World Cup, the gold medal could be up for grabs.

Serbia coach has trash talk for Team USA ahead of FIBA World Cup

Serbia national basketball coach Sasha Djordjevic seems to be looking forward to a potential matchup against the United States.

In an interview on Serbian national TV this week, Djordjevic had some trash talk for Team USA ahead of the FIBA World Cup.

“Let’s let them [Team USA] play their basketball and we will play ours and if we meet, may God help them,” he said in a semi-serious tone, per Eurohoops.

While Djordjevic’s remark may be a bit tongue-in-cheek, he has reason to feel confident with Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic manning the middle in a four-out offense. Also riding shotgun for Serbia is a number of NBA-tested talents, including former LA Clippers guard Milos Teodosic, Dallas Mavericks big man Boban Marjanovic, and Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica of the Sacramento Kings.

Team USA did beat Serbia the last time they faced off in the 2016 Olympics. This time around however, the Americans could struggle to contain a well-spaced, Jokic-centered offense, especially with the number of star withdrawals (some more unusual than others) that they have endured.

U.S. women capture sixth straight Olympic basketball gold medal

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Heading into the Rio Olympics, the U.S. women were the overwhelming favorite to win the gold medal in basketball and they did not disappoint.

On Saturday, the U.S. was victorious over Spain by a final score of 101-72 to capture the gold medal, their sixth consecutive in the event, to continue a dominant run in Olympic competition that dates back to 1996.

Diana Taurasi and Lindsay Whalen each scored 17 points to lead the team. Maya Moore added 14, Breanna Stewart had 11, and Elena Delle Donne scored 10 to round out the players in double-digits.

The win was No. 49 in a row in Olympic competition and the U.S. outscored their opponents during the tournament by a combined score of 817-519. They topped the 100-point mark in six of the eight games they played. For Taurasi, Tamika Catchings, and Sue Bird, Saturday’s win gave each of them their fourth Olympic gold medal.

Among those to congratulate the team on bringing another gold medal back to the United States were LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The U.S. men will try to finish off their trip to Rio with a win in the gold medal game against Serbia on Sunday.

Charles Barkley: Team USA struggling due to flawed roster

Charles-Barkley

After a pair of early blowouts, Team USA has found it much tougher with a trio of tight wins. The inevitable questions have started, and Charles Barkley thinks the issue is inherent in the roster.

Barkley told Sports360AZ.com that the Americans play too much isolation.

“It’s not a good team to put together,” Barkley said, via ESPN. “If you take away DeAndre Jordan, every guy on that team is a ball-dominant guy. You see them playing a lot of one-on-one basketball.

“That’s the thing I’ve noticed more than anything. Like, you have to understand when you put a team together like that, you have to have some role players.”

Barkley thinks the team has too many players who want to shoot.

“You take a guy like Kyle Lowry, who is a hell of a player, he wants to score. Kyrie [Irving] wants to score. Kevin [Durant] wants to score. DeMar [DeRozan] wants to score. So, I think they have been really stagnant offensively.

“When they put that team together in the future, they have to realize we can’t have just really, really great offensive players. They gotta have players that if they don’t get a shot, they’re not just gonna stand around and mope.”

At least one of Team USA’s players has diagnosed some of the problems. We’ll see if they have an easier time with Argentina on Wednesday.

Carmelo Anthony would consider career ‘great’ with three golds, no NBA title

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The lack of NBA playoff success is perhaps the most glaring hole on the resumé of nine-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony. But if USA Basketball can take home the gold medal this summer in Rio, none of that will even matter to him.

In an interview with Marc Stein of ESPN on Thursday, Anthony said that he would consider his basketball career “great” if he won three gold medals, even without winning an NBA championship.

“Most athletes don’t have an opportunity to say that they won a gold medal, better yet three gold medals,” Anthony said. “I would be very happy walking away from the game knowing that I’ve given the game everything I have (and) knowing I played on a high level at every level: High school, college, won (a championship) in college (at Syracuse) and possibly three gold medals.

“I can look back on it when my career is over — if I don’t have an NBA championship ring — and say I had a great career.”

The 32-year-old Anthony is the veteran leader on Team USA at this year’s Rio Games, having already competed in three Olympics (2004, 2008, 2012) and won two gold medals. No male has ever won three in the sport of basketball. With 31 points on Wednesday in a win over Australia, Anthony also become USA Basketball’s all-time leading scorer.

Such triumphs at the international level help ease the sting of Anthony’s failure to capture an NBA title in his 13-season career, having only made it to the Conference Finals one time. Retiring without winning a championship would hurt Anthony’s legacy and almost delegitimize his career in the eyes of fans and pundits who place such a heavy premium on rings (a phenomenon that our founder explained helped push Kevin Durant to the Warriors). But retiring as perhaps the greatest basketball Olympian ever would be more than enough to satisfy Anthony, and that’s all that really counts.

Image Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving says he almost played for Australia until Coach K intervened

Kyrie-Irving

Cavs guard Kyrie Irving has emerged this summer as one of the foundational young talents of USA Basketball. But he actually once came dangerously close to not even being eligible for the roster.

In an interview with Michael Lee of The Vertical on Wednesday, Irving, who was born in Australia and spent the first two years of his life there, said that he almost accepted an invitation to play on the Australian under-18 basketball team as a 17-year-old, which would have made him ineligible to suit up for the United States in future international play. It was only the intervention of Mike Krzyzewski, who would later become Irving’s college coach at Duke, that prevented him from doing so.

“It was very serious,” Irving said when asked how close he came to playing for Australia. “It was a legit thing, until Coach K intervened. He strong-armed me. As a young fella, he did tell me I had a chance to be a part of something bigger than myself. He said, ‘You could be the starting point guard on the U.S. Olympic team.’ I never thought it would happen as soon as it has, but I had aspirations and dreams of being a guard on an Olympic team.”

Now 24, Irving is indeed the starting point guard for Team USA under Krzyzewski at the Rio Olympics and is confident in his ability to help lead the squad to the gold medal. And as Irving spins, shakes, bakes, and splashes his way around dumbfounded international opponents this August, it looks like we have Coach K to thank for having the foresight to see Irving’s limitless potential some seven years ago.

USA Basketball players accidentally visited brothel in Rio

usa-basketball-2016

USA Basketball’s time in Rio apparently is off to a rather interesting start.

According to a report by TMZ Sports on Friday, some of the members of the team, including DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins, and DeMar DeRozan, went for a night out in the city on Wednesday and wound up accidentally visiting a brothel thinking that it was a spa.

Termas Monte Carlo in the Copacabana district of Rio was the venue in question. The report goes on to state that the brothel will tell customers over the phone that it’s a spa that plays music, has a full bar, and only serves male patrons. The players are said to have immediately left after realizing the true nature of the business.

You’d think that at least somebody on the team would’ve had the foresight to Google the place beforehand. Maybe these are the types of hindrances that Kyrie Irving forgot to account for. Oh well.

Image Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

H/T SFGate via NBA Reddit

Confident Kyrie Irving says ‘nothing’ could hinder Team USA gold chase

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving is feeling quite good about Team USA’s chances at the Rio Olympics.

Irving told reporters that he doesn’t really see any reason why the Americans should be tripped up in their chase for a gold medal.

“I don’t know…nothing,” Irving said Thursday when asked what could stop Team USA, via Michael Lee of the Vertical. “Honestly, that should be our attitude. If things get hard, we should be able to withstand it. And we’ll be ready for anything.”

Is Irving right? Well, yes. Rationally, nobody should really be able to challenge Team USA. That doesn’t mean, however, it’s a foregone conclusion. There are a few teams that could, conceivably, throw the Americans off on their quest. They’re right to be confident, but avoiding overconfidence and complacency will be vital.

Four countries that can compete with USA Basketball for Olympic gold

pau-gasol-spain

Team USA rules over the international basketball landscape with an iron fist. A starting lineup of Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis with Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and Blake Griffin coming off the bench would probably be a shoo-in for the gold medal, not just in basketball, but in handball, judo, synchronized swimming, and the triathlon as well. Instead, those are all players who WON’T be suiting up for the good ol’ US of A at the Olympics this year. But the bad news for the rest of the world is that America’s 12-man junior varsity roster still boasts a combined 33 All-Star appearances, 24 All-NBA honors, 10 All-Defensive Team selections, five scoring titles, and Harrison Barnes. USA Basketball has blasted opponents by an average margin of victory of 43 points in five exhibition contests, and, realistically speaking, nobody, not Papua New Guinea, not Mordor, not Vanessa Carlton, has a Drummond’s chance at the free throw line of stealing the gold away from them.

But is anything really that guaranteed, especially in a world where the foul stench of bronze in the 2004 Athen Games still reeks about as badly as the Zika-infested Brazilian countryside and where the ineradicable mental images of Draymond’s donkey may have traumatized the entire team into a permanent state of mediocrity? For the sake of competitive spirit (something that one lanky small forward for Team USA could use a lesson in), here are the four countries best suited to compete with America for basketball gold in Rio.

Lithuania

Perhaps the lone Achilles’ heel for USA Basketball is the relative lack of experience at the Olympic level. Kevin Durant and grumpy grandpa Carmelo Anthony are the only two players on the roster with any prior Olympic experience whatsoever. That’s not going to be a problem for the Baltic nation of Lithuania, a team returning six members from their 2012 squad that competed at the London Games. They’re also coming off a strong recent performance on the international stage, making it all the way to the championship game against Spain in EuroBasket 2015. The team is led by Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas, a smooth post-up/pick-and-roll player who is battle-tested against the NBA’s top talent and who may be the team’s most effective weapon against DeMarcus Cousins considering his knack for baiting Boogie into near-ejections.

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