HoopsHype Olympics rumors

August 29, 2012 Updates

What happened in 1972 to the United States' Olympics men's basketball team was a shame, a scandal, a ripoff and a nightmare, at least from the U.S. point of view. It was not, however, a tragedy. Not then, not now. The tragedy at those Munich Games was the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists. The members of that '72 U.S. team have carried that truth with them across 40 years, no matter how cheated they felt or how bitter their basketball memories. The tail end of the last game is notorious by now: In what otherwise would have been a 50-49 victory for the championship, a team from the Soviet Union was allowed to try once, twice, three times on a final possession. NBA.com

Near the end of a news conference, almost as an afterthought, Reed asked Tom Burleson, the 7-foot-2 center, to relate his brush with the terrorists. The youngest member of the '72 squad came the closest to the politics and horrors that crowded out athletics from that Olympics. Burleson had spent the day -- Sept. 5, 1972 -- acting the tourist in Munich with his fiancée. They visited cathedrals and the Black Forest and even stopped at a McDonald's. Then he rode the train back to the Olympic Village -- and was surprised when it stopped short of the station. The passengers were ordered off outside the security barricades around the athletes' temporary residences. From a car at the end of the train, Burleson sensed a long wait checking through the gate, with dozens or hundreds of people required to produce three forms of identification. Across a parking lot, he spotted a garage-door opening he and others had slipped through in the Games' earlier, calmer days. So he beckoned to two Italian players to follow him out the back. They cut across the parking lot. NBA.com

Then Burleson heard the shuffling of the hostages feet as they were brought out. "And I could hear them crying. I could ... hear ... them ... crying!" At this point, four decades later, a 20-year-old kid turned 60-year-old man began to sob. He leaned back and tried to breathe. He bent forward, burying his face in his hands, his back and shoulders heaving. Jim Brewer, to Burleson's left, placed a hand on the big man's back, then his knee. "They didn't want to die," Burleson said in gulps. "They didn't want ... to DIE!" NBA.com

August 28, 2012 Updates

Team USA Coach Mike Krzyzewski congratulated him anyway, and moments later, Kobe Bryant came over to Gasol and the two hugged. It proved a telling moment and showed how the Laker teammates share a tight bond. Could it also have been Gasol’s last moment as an Olympian? “It’s too early to say,” Gasol said on whether he’d play in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. “I always take it one year at a time and see the next goal and next target. My mind and my focus is on next season with my team on the Lakers and helping as much as I can to bring back the title. That’s where my head is at. 2016 is a little far ahead.” Los Angeles Times

Gasol talked to The Times recently from the African nation of Chad, where he’s centering his immediate focus working as a UNICEF ambassador this week in Sahel region. Nonetheless, Gasol remained concerned enough about the Olympic future of a key teammate. Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka indicated to Spanish reporters that he was unhappy about his limited role in London and added that he may not even play in the 2016 Games. “We hope Serge can be part of the national team for many years,” said Gasol, who averaged a team-leading 19.1 points per game on 57% shooting. “He brings so many special unique set of skills to the table.” Los Angeles Times

Gasol conceded he hasn’t spoken with Ibaka since the Olympics about his reduced role. But he believes Ibaka needed to better understand the team dynamic. “We were very talented and we were very deep. There’s so many other great players,” Gasol said. “Some days you’ll play a little more. Some days you’ll play better. Some days you won’t. But at the end of the day, what matters is the team success. … He’s only 22 or 23. He has many years ahead of him. It’s good he has a desire and hunger. But he needs to understand the facts and circumstances of the moment and the needs long-term.” Los Angeles Times

August 27, 2012 Updates

Take me back to the gold-medal rematch of Spain vs. USA in the Olympics. Marc, your brother, has four fouls in the first quarter and a half and goes to the bench, yet it’s still a close game at halftime. You come out and play some of the best basketball I’ve ever seen you play in the third quarter. What was that game like? Did you feel like you had a chance to actually win it down the stretch? As the fourth quarter played out, what was it like just to be in another epic battle against the U.S. with the gold medal on the line? Gasol: (Sigh.) Obviously, it was hard to lose the final game, as we did in ’08. It was another great opportunity for us to show that we had a chance. Obviously we didn’t get to finish it off, we didn’t get to win it, but I think we showed a great level of competitiveness, spirit and talent. It was a good game. Unfortunately we came out on the losing end of it, but I try to keep in mind how we fought throughout the game and how we fought not only in that game but throughout the championship, because we had to face some adversity throughout. We competed really hard and through conditions like Marc getting the fourth foul in the second quarter and not being able to play until the fourth and a couple other things that didn’t work, or didn’t go our way. ESPN.com

August 25, 2012 Updates

“We want to make sure they realize what we’re playing for,” said Nash. “We’re here to help these players get better individually right now but this is about a bigger picture. We want them to get better individually so they can have a great long career as individuals but we also want them — those of us like myself, Jay Triano, Rowan Barrett, some of the coaches who have come to work who have played in the Olympic Games — to have a chance to experience that.” Toronto Star

August 23, 2012 Updates

Serge Ibaka felt underutilized, his status questioned. "If things keep going this way, I'm not coming back [to the Spanish national team]," Ibaka told close friends before the final against United States. ElMundo.es

On Tuesday, thunder.nba.com got an exclusive sit-down interview with Durant to discuss his exhilarating summer, what he learned and how he and his teammates developed from their Olympic experience. On how he was able to improve as a player this summer with Team USA: I worked a lot when we didn’t have games and after practices and stuff like that. My role was a little different playing with Team USA as opposed to when I’m on the Thunder. So I learned a lot about myself as a player. I think half the game is mental. Watching other guys and approaching the game like I did, I think I learned in that aspect. I also learned how to be a better leader and hopefully I bring it back to OKC and become a better player. I know I have a long way to go, I just have to keep improving. NBA.com

On what he saw from his Thunder teammates, Westbrook, Harden and Ibaka, this summer: I know James and Russ sacrificed a lot, and also Serge sacrificed a lot for the betterment of the team. You like to see that in guys, main pieces to a good team. Serge came out and did his role really well, played hard for Spain. James didn’t play as much as he would like to, but when he did, he made an impact. He was also a great teammate when he wasn’t in the game. Russ was playing out of position but still going out there and playing as hard as he could. So those guys did a great job and they got better throughout the summer. I’m looking forward to having them in OKC this season. NBA.com

August 22, 2012 Updates

Walter Davis, a member of the USA Basketball team that won gold at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, is auctioning off his gold medal as part of an annual "Hall of Fame" basketball- themed collection on GreyFlannelAuctions.com. Other items in the collection include game-worn jerseys and shoes from the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Jerry West and Julius Erving. CBSSports.com

Here’s a short documentary of Knicks star and Team USA forward Carmelo Anthony spending some quality time in London. On the eve of the Gold Medal game, Melo—along with his son and others—tours the city, takes pictures, and catches up with rapper and friend Nas via telephone. Short and sweet, but some pretty cool stuff. SLAM

August 21, 2012 Updates
August 19, 2012 Updates

After offering a noncommittal response last week on the issue, James told the Associated Press that he would consider another go-round at the Games, having "done the math." James would be 31 at the 2016 Games. His Heat contract runs through 2015-16, expiring before the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. James, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and former San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson are the only three-time U.S. men's basketball medalists, each with two gold and a bronze. James and Anthony also were on the United States team that took gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. South Florida Sun-Sentinel

August 18, 2012 Updates

Patrick Baumann: So it would be premature to make changes in the quality of basketball at the Olympics, especially before having maximised the potential of the World Cup. So it's too early to make any changes in the Olympic programme. To give you a concrete example, I don't think we would have had the investment in basketball in Britain - which is not a basketball country - had it not been for the Olympics. Also, without the Olympics, the amazing work done by Nigeria with its men’s team would have gone unnoticed. The same applies to the popularity of basketball in China. FIBA.com

August 17, 2012 Updates

Among Wade's regrets from his knee surgery was missing the Olympics. "It was difficult not to be part of the team." He added, "I could have been boneheaded and said I'm going to play in the Olympics." He said he appreciated it was paramount he returned ready for the Heat's title defense. Sulia

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