Is that what will stick with you or more the pride of representing the country and overcoming odds to make it there in the first place? A.B.: A mix of both. Look, we’ve never medaled in an Olympics, even a bronze. We were so close. The Serbia game was the one I was really disappointed in. We just got absolutely annihilated. The Spain game, FIBA had its say in that one. I’m still a firm believer in that. You look at the game tape and see their last four points are free throws, and they weren’t fouls. That was probably the most disappointing thing, but you can’t cry over spilled milk. We’ve got to move on from it, but [it was] just disappointing that we were so close to getting a medal and lost the bronze-medal game by one point.
Italy carries enormous pools of talents in its ranks. Established NBA-ers, Euroleague superstars, young yet quite experienced players. The squad has everything to hope for a success in the Eurobasket 2017. But will Messina be there to lead them from the bench? “Well I was a coach of the national team until September 30. But I will remain as such after that date, if things go as they should.” Meaning? “The idea is to continue in the national team. But I must have the okay from my club, the San Antonio Spurs, first in light of the tasks that my coach Gregg Popovich has. If they are in agreement, I will immediately get to a meeting with the Italian basketball federation. They have honored me with their offer to coach the team at EuroBasket 2017. I think the issue will be resolved in a few days.”
Tony Parker on playing with Pau Gasol: “It’s great to finish like that! I played against him since I was 14 years with the national team: cadets, juniors and seniors… Then in the NBA, it’s great fun! He’s such a good player, a good passer. I hope we will have a great season.”
“I have made the sacrifice that I want to do whatever it takes to win, so it’s one of the reasons why I didn’t go to the Olympics this summer,” Harden told The Vertical. “It was one of the toughest decisions that I’ve ever made in my life. For my legacy here in Houston and in the NBA, I thought it was important.”
Despite the United States’ gold medal win, Kawhi Leonard said he harbors no regrets about skipping the Rio Olympics. Leonard said a “lot of things,” including the birth of his daughter, factored into his decision. “I caught a couple of quarters here and there (on TV),” he said. Leonard said he hopes to have another shot at the Olympics. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich replaced Mike Krzyzewski as the U.S. basketball coach after the 2016 Games.
Tim MacMahon: Harrison Barnes on his limited Team USA role: “It was one of those situations where you have to sacrifice. Obviously when you make the Olympic team, you want to show what you can do on the world’s biggest stage. At the same time, winning gold took precedent. We didn’t want to be the team that either lost the win streak or didn’t come home with the gold. Those are the things that we as a team said we were going to put everything to the side and focus on that, and we came through.”