It will be one of the last for Ginobili, who will go into the Hall of Fame as much for what he did for his nation as he did for the Spurs. The kid from Bahia Blanca is now a father with a bald spot, but whose passion for the game still comes out in every slap at the ball, every stepback three, every ballfake that leads to a driving layup. (This is must reading on Ginobili’s impact and legacy.) “It will continue,” Ginobili said. “How successful, it’s hard to guess what’s going to happen. We did some amazing things in the last 15 years. But, for sure, we have some tough competitors. Nicolas Laprovittola is another tough, hard-nosed player… Patricio Garino is just a great player. So, we just need a little size once Luis Scola retires. But I’m proud of my teammates. I know they’re going to keep playing the right way, and with a lot of heart.”
"You saw Nando De Colo and Thomas Heurtel tonight," Nicolas Batum said. "I think people in the U.S. don't really know them. Those guys can really play. I mean, De Colo was the MVP of the EuroLeague, and Heurtel was the best prospect in EuroLeague, too. And we've got Rudy Gobert coming, and Joffrey Lauvergne, and Evan Fournier is pretty good, too. So, we have a lot of guys that have been drafted the last two years or so on good teams in the NBA. It's going to be a different era, of course, but it's still going to be good."
“I know people compare this team to the other team (in 2012),” Batum said. “The thing is, other teams improved, too. The basketball world improved, too. You’ve got a lot of guys now, there are the most NBA players (on all national rosters) in the Olympics tournament ever. Guys got better since the last 20 years, and that may be the thing, too.”
Jeff Zillgitt: Kyrie Irving tied a U.S. Olympics record w/12 assists. Shared by four others: LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Leon Wood (NBA ref), Phil Ford.
Coach K's advice to Durant was simple: Criticism comes with the territory of greatness. "One thing I told him is that, when you're really good you're going to be criticized, and you're going to be hated by a certain amount of people ... a lot of people aren't going to like you because of the decision you made. "Even the people who say they don't like you, they respect you. And if they don't, they're knuckleheads, because then they don't respect excellence. And you know what, man, you are excellent," Krzyzewski said.
What about these close games? USA are accustomed to winning by big margins. Durant: We're going to have to grind it out. Every team is going to come at us, so at the end of the day, we're just trying to win. We've got leads, but we're playing in spurts. We've got to put a whole game together. It's a surprise for a lot of the fans watching these games. Durant: Everyone wants us to win by a lot of points, but that's not going to happen this time, so we've got to be prepared for a grind-out game and I think we showed the last few games we can grind it out.
On Friday, New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony told ESPN's Marc Stein that, even if he never wins an NBA championship, he believes he'll have had a "great career" if he becomes the first U.S. man to win a third gold medal in basketball at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. After receiving some backlash for his perceived indifference toward his lack of NBA postseason success, Anthony took to Instagram on Saturday to post a throwback photo of him and longtime friend/on-court rival LeBron James at a practice before the 2012 London Olympics. Anthony's caption implied that James had to convince him to "chill" and not "go off" on his detractors on social media following his comments on Friday.
Marc J. Spears: USA plays with fire again, but wins again 100-97 versus France sans Tony Parker. Win or go home early next. @usabasketball #RioOlympics2016
Jeff Zillgitt: Kevin Durant: "Obviously, everybody wants us to win by a lot of points, but it’s not how it’s going to go this time." usat.ly/2aMb1U3
Raul Barrigon: Klay Thompson first 4 games: 11 pts, 4/26 FG (3/16 threes). Today vs. France: 30 pts, 9/16 FG (7/13 threes). https://t.co/wY8ekaxhF1
Paul Garcia: #FRA Basketball Tony Parker suffered a toe injury in the last game. He will play in quarterfinals next round. #Spurs - RT: Equipe France Basket: #FRAUSA @tonyparker a pris un coup à l'orteil lors du dernier match. Le staff médical des Bleus a souhaité le préserver en vue des quarts.
Andres Nocioni, a scrappy, ornery forward known mostly for his time with the Chicago Bulls, is four years removed from his last NBA game but showed that he’s still got game as he recorded a tournament-high 37 points with eight 3-pointers, including a ridiculous, fading bomb from the left corner to force the first overtime. Argentina needed Nocioni’s heroics in a game in which Scola fouled out and Ginobili struggled to even hit the rim on some shots. Afterward, Nocioni was asked if the win against the team he called “our eternal rival” was any more special since it might be the final ride with his long-time teammates and he laughed. “It was the last ride four years ago,” Nocioni said. “Maybe we coming back in Tokyo. You never know.”
The fans cheered Huertas but screamed over Scola’s words. His intentions were sincere and heartfelt. “South America is a great place. It’s fun,” said Scola, who has been representing Argentina for 21 years. “The way people cheer sports are fun. We just cross the line sometimes. If we could just stop right before the line, it’s going to be the best show ever. It’s going to be beautiful. People are smart. People are creative. If we can just make people to understand that it’s just a game, it’s not [war] and all that, it’s going to be much better for everybody.”
Diaw set quite the tone for this excursion back in December, when he wrote a letter to Parker on a French web site that set the stage for what is likely their last hoops adventure. He told old stories about their time together, shared his appreciation for all Parker had done. "Destins Croises,” the headline read. Translated, it means “Shared Destinies.” “Tony is like a brother to me,” wrote Diaw, who didn’t play with Parker in the NBA until joining the Spurs in 2011 and won a championship with him in 2014. “We’ve now got the Olympic Games in Rio coming, a very special event where we have the chance to round off our respective careers on a high.”
Being back on the bench has reminded Williams how much he loves coaching, and he knows he'll do it again, even if it can't be yet. "I'll just take it one day at a time. I'm not concerned with where I am in my career, just because the Lord's always taken care of all that," Williams said. "My kids right now are the priority and I just want to get back home and make sure they're in a good spot. Obviously working in the NBA is really important to me, but at the same time there's a few other things that need to happen for me to get back to that point."
What’s next for Voigt? Nigeria assistant coach John Bryant says Voigt should be coaching in the NBA. Bryant knows what it takes – he’s an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers. “He can coach at any level. I say that without hesitation,” Bryant said. “He should be in the NBA right now of his work ethic and knowledge of the game.”
But those are a just a few interesting details among many of Will Voigt’s global journey from rural Vermont to the Rio Olympics. The son of a Pulitzer Prize finalist in poetry and MacArthur genius (his mom Ellen) and founder of a culinary school (his dad Fran), Voigt has coached in Norway, Denver, Austin, Texas, Bakersfield, Calif., China, Nigeria and Barre, Vt., the one-time home of the minor-league Vermont Frost Heaves. “I’ve been fortunate to have had these opportunities,” Voigt said. “I didn’t set out with a blueprint of how do I get to China? How do I get to Norway? How do I get to Nigeria? It just presented itself. I certainly wasn’t afraid of going somewhere different. The way it’s played out, I don’t think I could have ever predicted.”
“Michael Jordan has been an inspiration to me throughout my whole career,” Phelps said. “What he did to the sport of basketball is what I’ve always wanted to do in the sport of swimming. No. 23 is a special number, and will always be a special number. It always has been, and now it is even more special.”
You probably know Dave Benz as the television play-by-play voice of the Timberwolves for the past four seasons. If you’ve heard him lately, though, it’s been during Olympic broadcasts. He is slated to call fencing, synchronized swimming and modern pentathlon. Benz chatted about the experience with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand: Q. How did you get this assignment? Dave Benz. Honestly, just from working in the industry. I have some connections with people from NBC when I used to work at Comcast. … I had talked to them last summer and expressed an interest in working on the Olympics. Initially I was told they were all set and didn’t need anybody, but my contact told me almost every Olympics there’s something last-minute that opens up. Sure enough, he called me nine days before the Opening Ceremonies. And I found out the Saturday before the Opening Ceremonies what events I’d be doing.
“They are just players. If you think about who they are, you are not going to be good at this. Maybe Australia showed us they can get beat. They can get beat,” said Serbian center Nikola Jokic, the promising Denver Nugget who bludgeoned the U.S. for a game-high 25 points in a 94-91 loss.
“We got to expect this,” said DeMarcus Cousins. “Every time we step on the floor, guys are going to give us their best effort, everybody wants to beat Team USA. We know that coming in, but at the same time, we can’t crumble the way we’ve done the past two games. Right now, we’re hurting ourselves. Not taking away credit of how Serbia played, because they played amazing tonight. But we’ve got to be a lot stronger mentally.”
"It's a shorter game, a 40-minute game, and you can never let your guard down," Team USA assistant coach Tom Thibodeau said in a SportsCenter interview after the game. "We felt that that's what we did. When things aren't going well, we still have to play within a team concept and play together both offensively and defensively. The way this [international] game is played. ... You have to be tied together and you have to be able to sustain your concentration and effort through an entire possession. We didn't finish our defense as well as we could have."
Fred Katz: Alex Abrines (knee) didn’t play again, though he did go through warmups this time. No reason to risk further injury in a 50-point game, of course
NBA offenses are often based on ball and player movement. But there are stylistic differences between European and NBA offenses, George explained. “In our game, there’s movement, but these guys, there’s constant movement,” he said. “You don’t ever sit still. In our game, there’s moments when you’re sitting still. You can have a rest period where there’s action on the other side. You’re constantly moving side to side and it’s like they don’t get tired. That’s very new to us.”
U.S. defeated Serbia 94-91 for its 21st consecutive Olympic victory and 49th consecutive international victory. Bogdan Bogdanovic missed a three-pointer with 0.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter, a shot that could have sent the game to overtime. The USA didn’t score in the final 2:11 after Carmelo Anthony’s jump shot put it ahead 94-89. "When we're playing, we think it's a huge game,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “When our opponents play, it's a huge game and we're going to get their best shot, and it's kind of free money. (They) play a game like this and (they’re) going to be celebrated win or lose. For us, that's not the case – ever. We just have to understand that.”
After he stepped down from the interview podium, Djordjevic was intercepted by ESPN.com at the door and asked if he really expected that game plan to work so effectively against all those big names from the States. "Actually yes," Djordjevic told me. "Why not?" Why not? "You guys are better, of course, but you have to prove it on the court."
Team USA hasn’t looked sharp. Winning the past two games by a combined 13 points makes it obvious that something is amiss, but before trouncing Venezuela by 43, the Americans were tied with one of the worst teams in Group A after the first period. “We got to expect this,” said DeMarcus Cousins. “Every time we step on the floor, guys are going to give us their best effort, everybody wants to beat Team USA. We know that coming in, but at the same time, we can’t crumble the way we’ve done the past two games. Right now, we’re hurting ourselves. Not taking away credit of how Serbia played, because they played amazing tonight. But we’ve got to be a lot stronger mentally.”
SI: [Against Australia] you guys finished the game with Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Paul George, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony. It seems like basketball's evolved to even since the World Championships in 2014. What do you think of how quickly this has all changed? Thibodeau: I don't think it's changed dramatically. Size is still very important. What has changed is having guys who can play multiple positions. I think every team has to have the ability to do both. You have to be able to play big, and you know, everyone talks about Golden State playing small, but most of the time they're playing big. And then they adjust and they'll go with their small lineup, where they have a lot of 6'7 or 6'8 guys who are interchangeable. Really, that's the way we're built. We have two traditional centers with great size, and then we have the versatility of Draymond. That's what makes Draymond so unique. His ability to play three or four positions, and then when you do play small, you're not sacrificing you're defensive rebounding. It's a different look for teams. I think teams are moving in that direction.
Kendall Marshall: I'm ready for the challenge. --- RT @MarcJSpearsESPN: USA needs a true point guard.
In a discussion about Duncan's legacy, Bowen mentioned the Spurs star's unassuming lifestyle, and eventually explained how Duncan turned down the President's offer.
Jeff Zillgitt: In response to question from @Marc Stein, Serbia point guard Milos Teodosic said he wanted to play in NBA a "long time ago."
Having overcome testicular cancer and knee surgeries and battled other injuries throughout his 14-year career, Nene hasn’t always found a sympathetic audience in his homeland. Nene also had other disputes with the Brazil basketball federation over insurance concerns, which makes these Olympics only his fourth international competition since entering the league with Denver in 2002. Though the fans and Brazilian media have been hard on him at times, Nene refuses to hold a grudge. “We didn’t communicate very well, but right now we’re on the same page,” Nene said. “They have my back. They have our back and they understand everything that I’ve been through, that’s what makes it so special. All those years, working and sacrificing my body, everything for my family, for my friends, for my country, for my Lord, for everything. Now is the moment. I’m always going to give my best.”
The Spanish players noticed the empty crowd while warming up, but weren't aware what caused it. Inspectors had determined the game could start as scheduled and allowed media and volunteers — who weren't informed of the situation — to remain in the building while the ticket holders were kept outside. Nigeria coach William Voigt had been briefed, but said it wasn't the reason for his team's slow start. "I decided not to really say anything to anyone else," he said. "I didn't want it to be a distraction, but I knew and certainly when whatever was detonated went off I think it was something everybody noticed."
Schmidt’s love for his country and the national team – which he led to five Olympic games from 1980 to 1996 – was so strong that he shunned overtures from the NBA because of a now-obsolete rule that prohibited its players from participating in international competitions. At age 26, Schmidt declined playing for the New Jersey Nets after going in the sixth round of the 1984 draft. Instead, Schmidt elected to continue racking up his more than 49,000 points, across four countries, until he was 45. Had he decided to come to the NBA and tested his talents against the likes of Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, Schmidt is fairly confident in what he would have done.
“I would be top 10. Ever,” Schmidt said, waving his hand near his chest for inflection. “For sure. One guy can’t defend me. You need two. At least.” Schmidt will forever be revered in this futbol-crazed but basketball-hugging country, but he is somewhat envious of this current Brazilian national team, which has a chance to play Olympic games on their home soil. “That was my dream to play a competition like that,” Schmidt said.
USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo credits Bryant for playing “a very large part” in revamping the program’s culture after the 2004 squad settled for bronze at the Athens Games. “His work ethic, approach and how he appreciates the game is infectious,” Team USA forward Kevin Durant said last month in Las Vegas. “He’s someone who loves to play so much. He’s competitive when he steps in between those lines. He wants perfection.”
In the opening minutes of a preliminary game in Beijing, Bryant chased Spanish guard Rudy Fernandez across the court only to see Gasol set a screen near the free-throw line. Bryant bulldozed Gasol without hesitating. “That sent a message to everybody,” McMillan said. “It was a message to Spain and it was a message to us: ‘Pau is in a different uniform. We’re not teammates.’”
As much as Team USA appreciated Bryant’s team play and defensive intensity, Bryant remarked in several interviews that Krzyzewski also instructed him to score. That suited Bryant just fine. He scored 13 fourth-quarter points against Spain, including a four-point play that prompted Bryant to shush the crowd. Moments later, Bryant uttered something in a timeout so memorable that Boozer can recite the words nearly eight years later. “This is the (expletive) moment when we squeeze them and we win the gold medal (expletive) right now!” Bryant said. “We squeeze them and we don’t let go!”
Devoting time to his five children made sense. But why was he so set on working the Rio Olympics? It’s due to something his late wife, Ingrid Williams, once told him. Williams, via Hannah Storm of ESPN: "When I was in Orlando playing – this was like 17 years ago – she told me, she said, “You’re going to be in the Olympics one day,” out of the blue, just unprompted. I looked at her, and I was like, “I’m a solid player, but I don’t think they’re going to have me on the Olympic team.” And she didn’t even respond. She just looked at me."
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) is making another push to include 3-on-3 basketball in the Olympics, FIBA secretary-general Patrick Baumann told USA TODAY Sports.
Baumann said the International Olympic Committee will decide in June if 3-on-3 will be played at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “I want a favorable response. Expecting (a favorable response) is too much,” he told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s in the hands of the (IOC) executive committee. I know their thinking, what they like to do, the changes they want to make so of course 3-on-3 fits very well in that.”
According to “Reuters” the backpack was carried away by a robot and detonated, a spokesman for Rio 2016 confirmed. Detonating unattended bags has been common this Games amid concerns over security at South America’s first Olympics. Still the players had no idea about what was happening. As Pau Gasol after the game: “We thought, I guess nobody came to watch the game. We heard an explosion but we didn’t know exactly what it was or how big it was. We thought it was fireworks or, I don’t know. The arena was pretty much dead empty at the beginning”.
Sirius XM NBA: @usabasketball Asst Coach Jim Boeheim on Klay struggles: "We know Klay can shoot it & we know he will get going." #Rio2016
"Most athletes don't have an opportunity to say that they won a gold medal, better yet three gold medals," Carmelo 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."
Jeff Zillgitt: U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said he plans to stick with Paul George in the starting lineup vs. Serbia on Friday. Klay started first two games.
Michael Lee: DeMarcus Cousins got off USA bus, spotted Brittney Griner eating some Pringles & said, "Put those down, let's go." https://t.co/z9FHgGSMih
Sam Amick: Our Brittney Griner-DeMarcus Cousins faceoff almost just happened: "Not the time or the place," she says, "...yet." https://t.co/JkkUOhlwoW
Irving was 17 and mulling over an invitation to play for Australia – the country in which he was born and spent the first two years of his life – on its under-18 team. Coach Mike Krzyzewski, in the middle of a Team USA tenure that has resurrected America’s supremacy in the game, then told the youngster he needed to think bigger. “It was very serious,” Irving said of how close he came to playing for Australia, which would’ve later made him ineligible to play for the nation where he grew up. “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.”
Krzyzewski wanted Irving to see for himself the potential he had and pushed one of the more unlikely one-and-done talents to pass through Duke’s program in that direction. “When I saw Kyrie as a youngster, I told him, ‘You’re going to be a great guard. You could be the guard of your era,’ ” Krzyzewski said. “I’ve always had that vision, and I think he has that vision. But, more than having that vision, he has the ability. And, it’s not just physical ability. It’s mental. He’s really smart, and he gets it. He’s really mature about everything. The great players have that.”
Krzyzewski was explaining an alley-oop play to the team when the ball bounced in his vicinity. Irving began mockingly yelling for Krzyzewski, who is 69 and has had multiple surgeries on his knees and hips, to, “Go get it! Go up and get it!” A perturbed Krzyzewski glared at Irving and shouted, [Expletive] you, Kyrie! [Expletive] you!” Irving nearly doubled over laughing. “I don’t think we would be able to speak genuinely about each other if we didn’t have a genuine relationship,” Irving said. “It’s so comfortable. I’m glad I get to be a part of his last Olympic journey.”
"I watch Kevin Durant's MVP speech before every single race and I watch a highlights video of him," Kyle Chalmers said. "Our team manager actually grabbed him last night and got a video of him saying he watched me swim and good luck which was really exciting. "They actually had to show it to me this morning because they knew I wouldn't be able to focus if I saw it tonight before my race - I'm a big fan.
"The video was exciting. But it didn't quite stack up to the real thing - as Chalmers can now also vouch for. "Last night I was walking over to my semi-finals and Kevin Durant walked in front of me," Chalmers gushed. "To be honest with you I almost vomited. My jaw dropped. I was that excited and nervous.
If they hadn’t downed Australia 98-88, overcoming this feisty team that got everyone’s attention in the first round with a blowout win over a favored France squad, the sterling shine would have been off. Instead, Anthony – the only four-time Olympian the men’s program has ever known and the only member of this team who was there the last time the Americans lost in Olympic play 12 years ago – added to his international legacy. “I can tell you, I wasn’t thinking about (the loss to Argentina in) 2004 man,” Anthony said. “I was out there playing tonight. That experience – it is what it is. We accepted it. We know that feeling, and we don’t want to experience that feeling anymore.
Along the way, Anthony overtook LeBron James as Team USA’s all-time leading scorer. “I was letting the game come to me, taking shots that were given to me, taking open shots,” Anthony said. “Just play basketball. I was in the zone, I was playing basketball. I didn’t try to go get (the record), everything happened within the flow of the basketball game.”
“We knew that coming in - this team has a knack for being a little dirty.” George said the US team rose to the physical challenge after emerging from halftime. “I thought the second half we did a good job of just matching them,” he said. “We were doing the same stuff they were doing and we got hacked for it. We’re fine playing physical, that’s our game in the NBA, but if they going to allow us to play that way they got to play it both ways.”
Australia scored just 34 points in the second half, and the USA shot 56.3% and made 5-for-9 three-pointers in the fourth quarter. Anthony was brilliant with 14 points in the fourth quarter. He had help from NBA Finals star Kyrie Irving, who scored 12 of his 19 points in the final 6:16 of the fourth quarter. “This is the real world now, and that was good for us. … We earned this win, and we’re going to have to earn our wins throughout,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “This was a really good night for us. They made winning plays. It’s not like something was given to us tonight. Can we play better? We will need to.
Sometimes even Will Voigt himself can scarcely believe he’s coaching on an Olympic stage in the same tournament as Mike Krzyzewski. Voigt is the head coach of the Nigerian national basketball team, an improbable but hard-earned job for a basketball nomad who has refused to allow a modest playing career to derail his coaching ambitions. “I don’t think I could have ever predicted this,” Voigt said. “It’s hard not to realize the significance when you walk into the Opening Ceremony. I think I’ll have time to reflect on it when we get out of here and I’m not in work mode, but there’s no way I could have seen this coming.”
Voigt’s big break came in 1999 when the San Antonio Spurs offered him a job as a video coordinator. It’s not the sort of job a 23-year-old with so little basketball experience typically lands, but the Spurs have never been afraid to take a chance on someone from a non-traditional background. Plus, Weltman vouched for Voigt to Spurs general manager R.C. Buford and Pomona alums Gregg Popovich and Mike Budenholzer also received rave reviews from folks at their alma mater. “He was young and he was cheap,” Buford joked. “When he was with us, he had a really good relationship with our players. He was able to connect with people. He wasn’t afraid to take a different path and he was very ambitious.”
No matter how much you like basketball, it’s probably been a while since you’ve thought about Luc Longley. The 7-foot-2 Australian was a key part of Michael Jordan’s second three-peat team, but his Q rating went down a bit after Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf disbanded that bunch in 1998. Imagine most of the internet’s surprise, then, to see the affable Longley sitting on the Australian bench during Wednesday’s matchup with the Dream Team. Now 47 years old and an assistant coach with Team Australia, Longley’s long locks – say that three times fast – give him a bit of a different look than his playing days.
“I think what we proved today, it’s not necessarily about the talent,” said Luc Longley, the Australian assistant coach and former NBA champion. “We have more talent coming up, but the group we have right now, we thought we had a shot. I’m not going to say other players would’ve helped – that would’ve been unfortunate for our group – but Australian basketball has been producing good talent and you saw it on display” in the loss to the U.S.
Gary Washburn: Coach K: "For this group, that was the first real international game we've had." #RioOlympics2016
Marc J. Spears: It was a real scare, but @usabasketball survives beating Australia 98-88. USA's @Carmelo Anthony saves the day with 31 points and 8 rebounds.
In addition to holding the U.S. men's all-time scoring mark, Anthony has also played in a record 26 Olympic games. He trails David Robinson by 31 rebounds for the all-time lead and trails Michael Jordan by 20 field goals for the all-time field goal attempts mark.
Paul Garcia: Final: #USA 98, Australia 88. Patty Mills: 30 points and 2 rebounds in 35 minutes. #Spurs USA 3-0 at Rio. AUS 2-1 now at Rio.
Earl K. Sneed: Andrew Bogut returns, so that left knee is fine. He assured Mark Cuban he would shut it down if his knee gave him issues.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been one of the more vocal detractors of NBA players participating in international competitions but didn’t want to block the pursuit of his latest acquisition. And Bogut waited until last Friday – the day before Australia’s opening win against France – to declare himself fit to compete in these. “If it wasn’t right, I’d put my hand up and I’m on a flight back home. It was good enough to play,” Bogut said, adding that Cuban “has been great. We have a great relationship via email and via text. The whole thing was, if you feel like you’re 100 percent, and you feel like your knee is a go, we’re going to support you. I couldn’t ask for a better organization to give me that confidence.”
“It’ll be all right,” Bogut said. “I’m in Texas, so I’m pretty pumped about it. Harrison is still my teammate, so we’re good. Those guys are guys I’ll always remember and have friendships with. You win a championship with a group of guys, it doesn’t happen very often, and you all remember that.” Playing free of a brace but wearing significant padding, Bogut has been surprisingly effective and explosive, catching alley-oop dunks and snaring rebounds despite spending most of the past few weeks focused on repairing his knee. “There is a lot of pride there for him,” Australian assistant coach and former NBA champion Luc Longley said of Bogut. “He really does care about his teammates and playing for his country. To see him play that well, that hard, that long. That’s leadership for us. They see a guy who makes x-million dollars, an old guy with nothing really to prove putting himself on the line and playing that hard, that does wonders for your group.”
Said Irving: "When I saw the France [score], I was like, 'OK, this will be a great test.' We need to be beat up a little bit to prepared for what's ahead." Team USA star Kevin Durant, however, scoffed at the notion that the game will narrow down to a duel between Irving and Dellavedova. "Delly's playing well, but he's not getting into no one-on-one matchup [with Irving]," Durant said. "Kyrie's a dog. He's an animal. That's how he approaches the game."
Klay Thompson, who said he wants to find his way to the athletes’ village for a visit soon, noted the pros and cons of living on the boat. “The pros (of the boat) is the comfort,” Thompson said. “There’s everything we need on there. We have a hot tub, we have a pool, we have a dining room, a nice room. The only con, I’d say, is you feel kind of removed from the Olympic Village and you kind of want to meet these other Olympic athletes. You kind of have to be able to get over there to do it, which is fine.”
“It’s not our boat,” he deadpanned, “and we’re not the only people on the boat. There are other people on the boat that we see, that we say ‘good morning’ to and ‘hello.’ We’ve actually made friends on the boat. I never knew I would have boat friends. In fact, now that I’m talking about it, I might go buy a boat. But I’d have to have a bigger swimming pool. It’s a place to stay and we’re here to play basketball. “And I’ll tell you what, the people in Rio have been unbelievable as far as their treatment of us and their hospitality. We’re fortunate to be here for the Olympics whether we’re on a boat or not.”
The chosen opponent? DeMarcus Cousins, the Sacramento Kings big man and fellow Team USA talent who has been ribbing Griner while on the cruise ship both teams are sharing. “I would love to just go out there and play against (Cousins),” said Griner, who has never played against NBA talent. “We talk a lot of crap to each other. I love talking to him. He’s really funny. I would love to just go out there and play against him.
“It’s almost like we’re the same person. As soon as I walk in the door, she’s at me. She says I’m a bum. She says she’ll kick my butt. It’s all in fun. She’s an incredible competitor. She’s an incredible player. It’s fun to be around the ladies and get to know them.” So does Griner have a chance? “She’s got some footwork, but I’m top dog,” Cousins said. “I told her she’s the third-best post player here behind me and DJ (DeAndre Jordan). She’s a little mad about that.”
At many levels, it makes no sense. America has the right kind of athletes with the right kind of sports backgrounds. True, they have no incentives to play handball, but disregard that for a moment: Really, how long would it take LeBron James to become the best handball player in the world? “Maybe six months,” U.S. national team Coach Javier Garcia-Cuesta said. “This is just a hypothetical. He has everything. When you see him playing, your mouth drops.”
NBA.com: But you’ve always had a bigger role for this team. Calderon: Yeah, but you know, it’s always changing. Everything is changing, but always the team first. I know my role. I know why I’m here. I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to help my team. NBA.com: You’re healthy? Calderon: 100 percent. I’m ready to help when my name is called and ready, as well, for next season with the Lakers. I think it’s going to be an exciting one and I’m happy to be there as well.
Diamond Leung: Draymond Green gives a tour of the cruise ship to @SinasportsChina video.sina.com.cn/p/rio2016/ch/d…
"Me and Draymond [Green] instantly clicked," Anthony said, "because it's like we just sit back and we just talk trash all day. ... This whole team, man ... [on] the first day we put together a group text and it's like non-stop trash-talking. I know people wish they could see these group texts, these team chats." On this night folks had to settle for seeing Melo, as Team USA's old head, stepping up in the second quarter when little else was working. The Americans finally stopped fouling Venezuela in that quarter and happily watched as Melo scored 10 of his 14 points in the period to restore some much-needed order.
With a second quarter bucket — when he led a USA explosion that blew the game open against Venezuela — Carmelo Anthony racked up his 258th career Olympics point for USA Basketball. That pushed him past Michael Jordan for third all time on that scoring list.
“I was disgusted by it happening,” George said of watching Said. “It brought me back to my days. It was difficult. I didn’t want to watch it, but in order for me to go over and talk to him, I had to see what happened. It was tough, tough to watch.”