It is unclear how long Gregg Popovich will continue to coach Team USA, but we may have an idea of who could eventually replace him.
Steve Kerr is considered the favorite to succeed Popovich as the head coach of Team USA, according to NBA reporter Marc Stein. Erik Spoelstra is another name to watch, but USA Basketball would likely prefer Kerr because he has prior experience with international competition both as a coach and player.
Kerr served as an assistant coach under Popovich at the Tokyo Olympics, where Team USA won a gold medal last month. He also won a gold medal as a player at the 1986 FIBA World Championship, which was the last American men’s senior team comprised of all amateur players.
Popovich is 72 and entering his 26th season as the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. There has been talk of the three-time NBA Coach of the Year retiring, but a recent report indicated he could stick around longer than expected.
It’s possible that Popovich could step aside as the coach of Team USA and focus on his remaining time with the Spurs. Though, he certainly seemed to enjoy silencing Team USA’s critics in Tokyo.
Gregg Popovich has been heavily criticized for some of Team USA’s shortcomings since he took over as head coach, which is one of the reasons capturing a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics meant so much to him. Popovich made that clear while addressing the team after they defeated France.
Popovich delivered a fiery speech to Team USA after they won the gold medal. He spoke about how everyone criticized the team and appeared to tear up at one point. He ended with a line that whipped his players into a frenzy.
“I’d just like to say to all those people out there: How the f— you like us now?'” Popovich said.
We saw Kevin Durant and Draymond Green rip their critics in an Instagram live video immediately after winning the gold. Green later trolled Kendrick Perkins and other analysts who doubted him and his teammates. That mentality was clearly shared by Popovich and everyone else in the locker room. Perhaps it helped motivate the Americans to turn things around.
USA Basketball’s gold medal win was a moment of redemption for Gregg Popovich, and he and some of his players shared a cool moment during the medal ceremony.
Despite their important role, coaches themselves do not receive medals at the Olympics. Kevin Durant and Zach LaVine wanted to make sure Popovich’s efforts did not go unnoticed, and they both put their gold medals around his neck during the ceremony.
This has been a long time coming for Popovich, who was an assistant for the infamous 2004 team that only managed to win bronze in Athens. Even during the leadup to these Olympics, the coach had his skeptics, with some of them even reportedly in his own camp. The victory had to come as vindication for him.
This iteration of Team USA really enjoyed sticking it to the critics. They can find some kinship with Popovich in that regard.
Kevin Durant and Draymond Green have a complicated history, but the two NBA stars were quite pleased to come together in bashing their critics after Team USA won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.
Durant, who scored a game-high 29 points in the United States’ 87-72 win over France, got on Instagram live immediately after the game. He expressed disbelief that many analysts ranked Team USA as the fourth-best team in Tokyo. Green joined the video and called out Kendrick Perkins, who has been critical of Team USA in recent weeks like many others.
You can see the video below, but beware that it contains inappropriate language:
“They had some power rankings out, they had us fourth behind Slovenia,” Durant said. “Talking about (how) they’re catching up to us. Are you serious? This skill is unmatched.”
“Kendrick Perkins, you talk a lot of s—, a lot of s—,” Green added. “Act like you American.”
You can understand why the fourth consecutive gold medal for Team USA felt sweet for the players. They struggled early on and lost to France in the group stage, which led to them being ruthlessly mocked with Twitter memes. They also lost two exhibition games prior to the actual tournament, which had many anticipating an early exit in Tokyo.
It was noteworthy that Durant and Green gave the haters a shoutout together. Green and Durant have openly had issues with one another in the past, though Durant has since spoken highly of his former Golden State Warriors teammate. None of that drama mattered after Durant and Green helped Team USA silence the naysayers.
Kevin Love probably won’t be getting invited to Thanksgiving dinner at Jerry Colangelo’s house any time soon.
In an interview this week with Joe Vardon of The Athletic, Colangelo, the managing director of USA Basketball, absolutely tore into Love over Love’s withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics.
“I didn’t think Kevin Love was gonna play,” said Colangelo. “I wasn’t even sure he had much left to play. He reached out to us and said he was in shape and said he felt he owed us. On the basis of that, we’re looking at someone with international experience who at one time was a heck of a rebounder and could still shoot the ball. You know, being like a 12th man on a roster.
“Well, it didn’t work out,” Colangelo went on. “He wasn’t in shape. And he was way behind as it turned out. So you move on. Call it a mistake.”
Love, who was a member of the United States’ gold medal team at the 2012 London Olympics, got selected to the original 12-man roster for the Tokyo Games. He ultimately withdrew before the third exhibition contest though, citing the lingering effects of a calf injury. Love was effectively replaced by JaVale McGee on the roster.
Not everybody was happy about Love making the roster in the first place. Colangelo though really seems displeased about how it played out with him.
The USA men’s basketball team is expected to win every game it plays in the Olympics, which is why Sunday’s loss to France in the opening game was so jarring. The talent gap is clear, even though France has solid NBA players in its own right.
USA guard Damian Lillard pointed out after the game, however, that playing these players internationally is very different than facing them in the NBA. Lillard said these international players have more freedom and comfort playing internationally, and seem to raise their game at that level.
“And you know who we see each night sometimes in the NBA, they are completely different when they play for their countries,” Lillard said, via Eurohoops. “They got more freedom, and the comfort level is obvious. So we put ourselves in a dogfight, and they made plays to win it.”
The French have one of the NBA’s best defenders in Rudy Gobert, as well as a solid starter in Evan Fournier. Still, few are going to feel that even playing at a higher level, players like that should be able to lead their team to a win over the Americans. Everyone knows that. So do the players, some of whom apparently feel that the coach isn’t getting the most out of them.
Team USA can still advance to the knockout stage with wins over Iran and the Czech Republic, two teams they are expected to beat handily. Still, the questions are mounting at this stage, and even if Lillard is right, it hardly explains everything.
Team USA has looked anything but invincible so far at the Tokyo Olympics, and one of their former stars can’t help but notice how different the international basketball landscape looks nowadays.
Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing, who starred on the legendary 1992 “Dream Team,” said this week that he thinks the rest of the world has caught up to the United States.
“I’m rooting for Coach [Gregg] Popovich and the US Team,” Ewing told Marc Berman of the New York Post. “It’s an unfortunate time we’re living in, losing players to COVID-19 protocols. It’s harder to play now because of the Dream Team. All the current players grew up looking up to us and watching us dominate the rest of the world. But the rest of the world caught up.
“There are so many talented players,” added Ewing. “Some of the NBA’s top players today come from all over the world. It wasn’t like that back then.”
Ewing’s comments actually came before Team USA lost on Sunday in their group stage opener to France. They had already lost two exhibition contests to Nigeria and Australia prior to that. That is obviously a far cry from 1992 when the “Dream Team” went undefeated through 14 total games with no opponent even coming within 30 points of them.
Of course, Team USA has already looked vulnerable in subsequent years, most notably in 2004 when they had to settle for the bronze medal at the Athens Olympics. But Ewing is not the only “Dream Team” member who thinks that their team was far superior to any USA Basketball team since.
Team USA Basketball lost to France in their first official game of the Olympics on Sunday despite being a huge favorite. That has led to even more questions about whether Gregg Popovich is the right person to lead the team, and there may be some frustration with the coach’s system.
USA blew a late lead against France to lose 83-76 in their first game of group play. Several players, including Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, had poor shooting nights. According to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, players were grumbling on their way back to the locker room about “running the San Antonio offense.”
Vardon also said Popovich is “horrified” by his own coaching record with Team USA, which is now 6-3 in games that count. Team USA went 73-3 in meaningful games from 1996 through 2016.
There was no need to panic after Team USA lost exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia, and the same holds true now. They can advance to the knockout stage with wins over Iran and the Czech Republic, and they are heavily favorite in both games. Still, the pressure is mounting.
Popovich said he was more “disappointed” by Sunday’s loss than “surprised.” He has repeatedly accused the media and fans of underestimating Team USA’s opponents and not giving them enough credit.
It doesn’t matter what you want to call it. Team USA has by far the best collection of talent in the world, and for some reason that is not translating to quality play. Popovich had said the team’s offense will be based on “concepts” rather than set plays because of the limited preparation time, but apparently that is not working for players.
Durant didn’t sound all that concerned after Team USA’s two exhibition losses, as he felt they were easily explained. Popovich will have even more explaining to do if it happens again.
Team USA Basketball got off to a rough start at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday, and the Twitter world was more than happy to laugh at their misfortune.
After two stunning losses in exhibition games leading up to the Olympics, Team USA blew a late lead to France and fell 83-76. Gregg Popovich’s team was a 13-point favorite in the game. The loss was Team USA’s first since Argentina defeated them in the semifinals in 2004. The Twitter memes were ruthless.
Some of the best memes were about Carmelo Anthony, who has one of the strongest Olympic resumes of all time. Carmelo was with Team USA in 2004 when they won a bronze medal, and he then helped the team win three consecutive golds. Fans think Popovich should consider giving the 37-year-old a call.
The loss is hardly a death sentence for Team USA. They now need to beat Iran and the Czech Republic to advance to the knockout stage, and they will be heavily favored in both games. Still, it was not the start they were hoping for.
Some NBA players have also taken shots at Team USA, so the pressure is building in a hurry. Anything less than a gold medal would result in a lot of criticism.
Team USA Basketball has been under a microscope in Tokyo after surprisingly losing two exhibition games prior to the Olympics, and the subpar play continued in their first official game on Sunday.
Team USA blew a late lead against France to lose its first game of the group stage by a score of 83-76. USA had a 74-73 lead with less than a minute remaining before Evan Fournier hit a 3-pointer and France never looked back. France finished the game on a 16-2 run.
The loss was Team USA’s first since the 2004 Olympics, when Argentina beat them in the semifinals. They had won 24 straight games.
Team USA is not exactly in trouble. They now have to beat Iran and the Czech Republic to advance to the knockout stage, and they will be heavily favored in both games. Though, they were favored by 13.5 points against France.
France has a good amount of NBA talent led by Fournier and Rudy Gobert. They are one of the better teams in the tournament, but their win over Team USA was yet another shock.
Fournier scored a game-high 28 points. Jrue Holiday led Team USA with 18 points after coming off the bench. No one else scored more than 12 points for Gregg Popovich’s team.
Team USA lost exhibition games against Nigeria and Australia ahead of the Olympics. Bradley Beal had to head home from Tokyo due to COVID protocols, but the assumption was that Team USA would overcome all of those setbacks. Kevin Durant explained why the two exhibition losses were not all that alarming, but Sunday’s loss to France will only add to the pressure Team USA is facing.