Anthony Chiang: Popovich, speaking on Day 2 of Team USA training camp, on Bam Adebayo: “He’s active, he’s a rebounder, he runs. He knows how to play with teammates. … He’s going to be very valuable to us and obviously our best rebounder.”
The Olympics present a stage for which the world is watching and there is a long history of athletes using the event to protest or speak out on political matters. But as Bradley Beal explained to NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller, the plan is for Team USA to focus on winning a gold medal. They have agreed as a team to continue working for societal change in other ways and keep this particular trip about basketball. "We've talked about that actually as a team. In all honesty, for the first time we can lay out our arms and focus on our competition and that's what we're going to do. We don't want it to get into a political protest," Beal told NBC Sports Washington.
Beal said the first team meeting held by Popovich at training camp in Las Vegas had nothing to do with basketball. He wanted to first address the elephant in the room. "Honestly, Pop will probably do the majority of that. He's not afraid. He's expressed that, he's expressed that to me. 'Shift the blame on me, I'm going to be the one to kind of lay down what's going on.' We respect that. That was very admirable from him," Beal said.
Bradley Beal: "Our first meeting wasn't about basketball, it was about life. It wasn't about hoops at all. It was about him respecting us and what we did as players, what we continue to do and what we continue to embody and the fact we're still trying to come out and win a gold medal regardless of what's happened and what's been going on. That spoke volumes. That spoke volumes. Pop, he's a legend and he will always be a legend. Yeah, so ask him. He'll be the one to ask about what's going on in the world."
Kobe Bryant wore No. 24 and No. 8 with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he donned No. 10 for USA Basketball when he helped the Americans capture gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Jayson Tatum has worn that number as part of U.S. teams several times since — and will wear it at the Tokyo Olympics, where the Americans will aim to capture a fourth consecutive gold medal. “With this being the first Olympics since we lost him, it holds that much more value,” Tatum said. “It’s not something I take lightly.”
Tatum knew Bryant well. They worked out together and Bryant offered him advice many times. “I remember one talk, it might have been after a game, and he was saying that a lot of people won’t understand what you do,” Tatum said. “He said, ‘What I mean by that is, the ones that really want to be great and really want to be special really take that whatever-it-takes mentality.’ He told me it takes sacrifice, because the ultimate question is about how much are you willing to give up to be great.”
When he decided not to play in the 2016 Olympics, the number ended up with Kyrie Irving — another player who idolizes Bryant, just as Tatum does. And now, as was the case when the U.S. went to the Basketball World Cup two years ago, the jersey is Tatum’s. “For JT to have this moment, I’m happy for him, genuinely,” U.S. center Bam Adebayo said. “I’ve known JT since I was 12. He deserves everything he’s getting and he’s going to keep deserving more because he’s such a great player. I’m happy for him. That’s his idol, and he gets to represent that number. I know he’s going to have that ‘Mamba Mentality’ when he puts that 10 on.”
Harrison Wind: Tokyo Olympics news: Nuggets assistant Jordi Fernandez is an assistant coach on Mike Brown’s Team Nigeria staff. Caleb Agada, who will play with the Nuggets at Summer League per league sources, is also at training camp with Team Nigeria in Oakland. So is Monte Morris.
Japan's Tokyo Olympic team will comprise a record 582 athletes, with basketball player Rui Hachimura and wrestling gold medal hopeful Yui Susaki named as flagbearers, the country's Olympic Committee said Monday.
"The Tokyo Olympics are a stage that I have dreamed of for a long time. It is a huge honor to be given such a big role," Hachimura, who plays for the Washington Wizards in the NBA, said in a comment released by the Japanese Olympic Committee.
After beating the hosts of the tournament in Canada, the Czech Republic didn’t bend against Greece. To be exact the Czechs led from wire to wire on their way to an easy 97-72 win and became the last team to qualify in the Tokyo Olympics.
Gerald Bourguet: Monty Williams was asked about Devin Booker playing in the Olympics coming off a Finals run. He said he hasn't talked to Book about it, but he knows Devin wants to play and he doesn't see any reason why he shouldn't play. "Book likes to hoop."
Italy was on a mission on Sunday night. That mission was to return to the Olympics for the first time since 2004. And so they did, with nearly a blowout against tournament hosts and Rio Olympics silver medalists Serbia, as they pulled through with a 102-95 win to advance to Tokyo.
Achile Polonara emerged with a double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds, Nicolo Mannion posted 24 points, 4 rebounds for Italy, and Simone Fontecchio had 21points and 8 rebounds to lead the Italian selection back to the Olympics.
Brazil had three wins by 20+ points until the final game, where the German national team got the 75-64 triumph and the ticket to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo after a real dogfight. Moritz Wagner with 28 points on 9/12 FG led the charge for the winning side, getting help from Robin Benzing (13 p.), Maodo Lo (10 p.), and Johannes Voightmann (8 p. 11 r.). The Germans did it without having available Lakers guard Dennis Schroder for the qualifiers.
Luka Doncic just achieved his first-ever triple-double with the Slovenian NT as the nation qualified to the Olympic Games for the first time in history and the press conference that followed this feat was one for the ages. “I’m speechless. We didn’t have much time to prepare [for the final]. We have an amazing team, the chemistry is incredible and everybody plays their heart out”, said Doncic in his opening remarks.
The 22-year-old was named the MVP of the Kaunas tournament, as Slovenia punched a ticket for Tokyo later this July. “I don’t care about the MVP. We’re going to the Olympics. Every kid in Slovenia dreams of being in the Olympics, I did too. We deserve to be here. We [as a team] are making history. Not me. That was our goal. We will go from here.”
Marc Stein: Luka Doncic and Slovenia are headed to the Olympics in Tokyo. Triple-double for Doncic and a historic W for Slovenia IN Lithuania against a team that, if not on the same level as past Lietuva squads that troubled @usabasketball, did have Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas.
Doncic recorded his first triple-double with the national team, posting 31 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in 33 minutes. This is just his second triple-double outside the NBA. The sheer thought of a triple-double in FIBA basketball is simply insane, though the 22-year-old was set to make history on Sunday evening.
Josh Lewenberg: Nick Nurse: "I was extremely proud of our guys. We hung in there, battled and fought to give ourselves a chance... It just didn't bounce our way tonight, and that happens."
Josh Lewenberg: Nick Nurse on commitment from Canadian NBA players: "We're gonna always have turnover, I think. The injuries and the contract situations will always play a part in that, but we've gotta have some group sticking together. A core group is probably the important thing."
Michael Grange: Nick Nurse was — I would say — ‘positively non-commital’ about continuing to coach Canada in the future. Said he wants to debrief & evaluate,but also said “you know me; I love coaching and I love coaching this team and I want to see basketball grow”
Marc Stein: International basketball, man ... Canada wipes out a 10-point deficit in under a minute to force overtime. Tomas Satoransky wins it for the Czechs anyway with a banked dagger in OT. No Tokyo for host Canada.
Patty Mills and five more NBA players are on the Olympic men’s basketball roster for Australia, which eyes its first medal in the event in Tokyo. Mills, a 32-year-old guard going to his fourth consecutive Olympics, is joined by fellow NBAers Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes, Dante Exum, Matthew Dellavedova and Josh Green.
Boban Marjanovic had 18 points plus 10 rebounds and Filip Petrusev scored 17 as the Serbian national team kicked off its games in Belgrade’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament with a 94 – 76 win over the Dominican Republic. Reigning EuroLeague and Final Four MVP Vasilije Micic added 16 points (6-14 shots) and five assists for Serbia while Nemanja Bjelica scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Domantas Sabonis hopes the home crowd at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Kaunas can help inspire Lithuania to success. One of six teams vying for a qualifying spot to Tokyo, Lithuania have a strong roster at their disposal with the added advantage of home support to provide extra impetus come crunch time. "We're playing at home, we've got our fans and we're just excited to be here," commented Sabonis. "I hope we can get as many fans in here as possible. It's going to be a fun summer."
"It would be amazing to go to Tokyo," he said. "Another Olympics for Lithuania as a country would mean a lot to us. "Our preparation has been a challenge, but I think that's the same for everybody. We are just getting together and trying to find that chemistry as soon as possible." Lithuania open the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in front of their home fans in Kaunas on Tuesday when they take on Venezuela.
Donatas Urbonas: Final Lithuania NT roster for the FIBA Qualifying Tournament in Kaunas: Kalnietis, Jokubaitis, Lekavicius Grigonis, Giedraitis, Dimsa Kuzminskas, Butkevicius Bendzius, Masiulis Valanciunas, Sabonis.
Michael Grange: Here are the 14 @CanBball athletes in Victoria for Olympic Qualifying Tournament, we have gleaned. The 12-man roster to be finalized Monday; play begins Tuesday. Melvin Ejim out for personal reasons, otherwise no big surprises vs. the 19 that were in Tampa:
One of the first players to commit was Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who let go of old scar tissue. Lillard is still bitter about what happened in 2014 when he was the final cut before Team USA went to Spain for the World Cup, sources said. Lillard felt he had secured a spot on the roster that year after talking to then-head coach Mike Krzyzewski, but the team pivoted and kept an extra center. The Blazers' star said all the right things publicly, but the decision burned him for years.
With a new coach to play for, Popovich, and knowing this could be a last chance at the Olympics, Lillard played an important role in gaining momentum toward building out the roster. "When we talk to players about committing to the team, one of the things they always want to know is who else is committed," Colangelo said. "Lillard was one of the first and it was crucial."
Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant has been working out daily at a facility in his hometown of Washington, D.C., and eagerly wanted to make the roster. Coming into the week, Ford had let Grant know he was one of three or four players being considered for the last spots after Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden withdrew because of a hamstring injury. Colangelo called Wednesday morning with the official offer, which Grant immediately accepted. When he told his mother, Beverly, that he had made the Olympic Team, her tears quickly followed. A factor in the choice was Durant and Lillard lobbying Popovich on Grant's behalf, sources said.
Khris Middleton ordinarily wouldn't be thinking about anything right now other than what the Milwaukee Bucks are trying to accomplish in the NBA playoffs. An invitation to play in the Olympics, that's not ordinary. Milwaukee starting guards Middleton and Jrue Holiday plan to play for the U.S. in the Tokyo Olympics next month, yet both insist that isn't distracting them from the Bucks' quest to win the franchise's first NBA title in 50 years. "We're in the middle of a championship run," Middleton said. "To take a second to think about something outside of this season, it was a little tough to think about it. But it was an easy decision for me to go ahead and commit."
Middleton said it was "a little bit challenging" to make the Olympic decision during the playoff run but that he was able to refocus quickly once he made the commitment to USA Basketball. Holiday also said it wasn't an overly difficult choice. "I don't think I had to move my focus," Holiday said. "I think it's an honor to play for your country, especially an opportunity like this to be able to go out there and have 'USA' on your chest."
Jay Wright will join Popovich, the head coach, and fellow assistants Kerr and Lloyd Pierce, the former Atlanta Hawks head coach and 76ers assistant, on the sidelines for Team USA when it starts play at the Tokyo Olympics on July 25. He is to leave for Las Vegas on July 3 for the start of preseason workouts three days later. “It’s a really challenging coaching opportunity because they’re not coaching their own guys, so it’s really interesting to watch them handle each situation,” Wright, who will be coaching in his first Olympics, said Wednesday.
Wright was part of the coaching staff in 2018 when Team USA participated in the FIBA World Cup. That was his introduction to “learning Pop’s terminology, learning Pop’s structure for practice and team meetings and staff meetings and all the logistics.” “Steve played for him, and he picked it up a little faster,” Wright said. “Lloyd being in the NBA, he picked it up a little faster. They have a lot of common NBA terminology that’s different than college. So that was, for me, a great experience learning all that terminology. I’m actually reviewing it before we meet again in Las Vegas.”
Wright said flexibility is a key in the case of Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, who may have to meet the team in Tokyo if the Suns make the NBA Finals. The same is true with two Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern finals, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday.
Olgun Uluc: Isaac Humphries and Ryan Broekhoff have withdrawn from the Australian Boomers’ Tokyo Olympics campaign, sources told ESPN. Humphries was still rehabbing an injury ahead of this week’s camp in LA. It’s a blow for the Boomers; both were a legitimate chance to make the final 12.
D’Tigers coach, Mike Brown, has named 12 NBA players in his 49-man provisional list for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, which begins next month. The men’s basketball squad has opened camp in California. Headlining the list of NBA players is Denver Nuggets’ point guard Monte Morris, who recently declared his intention to represent Nigeria.
Also included in the list are Miye Oni (Utah Jazz), OG Anunoby (Toronto Raptors), KZ Okpala (Miami Heat), Precious Achiuwa (Miami Heat), Udoka Azubuike (Utah Jazz), Jahlil Okafor (Detroit Pistons). Others are Josh Okogie (Minnesota Timberwolves), Gabe Vincent (Miami Heat), Al-Farouq Aminu (Chicago Bulls), Jordan Nwora (Milwaukee Bucks) and Chimezie Metu (Sacramento Kings).
Adrian Wojnarowski: Milwaukee guard Jrue Holiday has committed to play for Team USA in the Summer Olympics, source tells ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul has declined an invitation to play for Team USA in the Summer Olympics, league sources tell ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: USA Basketball has known that Paul was trending toward this decision for several days, per sources. If Suns reach NBA Finals, there would be virtually no break before end of his NBA season and start of July Olympics in Tokyo.
Brian Windhorst: Ben Simmons is doubtful to play for Australia in Tokyo Olympics, sources said. Will spend offseason working on skill development. Aussies scheduled to begin training this week in L.A.
Tim Reynolds: Two more Olympic developments to watch in the coming days, per people in the know: Paul George and Chris Paul are still in decision-making mode. With CP3, it's obviously a bit more complicated now, but there are some who believe there's still a real chance he decides to play.
Shams Charania: Warriors star Stephen Curry has opted against playing for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics this summer, sources tell me and @Anthony Slater. Curry had been deciding on participating over the last few weeks, and USAB expected him to be out of the available pool.
Adrian Wojnarowski: After getting an invitation to join Team USA for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell has declined the opportunity, sources tell ESPN. Instead, Mitchell will use the time to recover and rehab from his right ankle injury.
Tim Reynolds: USA Basketball is working under the premise that Golden State guard Stephen Curry will not play in the Tokyo Olympics, a person with knowledge tells AP.
Shams Charania: Nets star James Harden has committed to play for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics, joining teammate Kevin Durant on the USAB squad, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Kyrie Irving is unlikely to play as he recovers from his ankle injury.
Kristian Winfield: Sean Marks says he has no problem with Kevin Durant playing in the Tokyo Olympics, so long as he's met the physical markers: "It's very difficult to turn down playing for your country.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo has committed to join the 12-man Team USA roster for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, his agent Alex Saratsis tells ESPN.
Furkan Korkmaz and Ersan Ilyasova will join their national team in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament of Victoria, Canada (29/6 to 4/7) where the “12 Giant Men” will compete for the ticket that will lead to Tokyo.
Canada Basketball has announced an updated 19-man roster ahead of next week’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria. The roster will be trimmed to 12 bodies later this week before the tournament begins on June 29.
An initial roster of 21 players was announced on May 27, but Monday’s announcement features a number of changes. Most notably, NBA stars Dillon Brooks, Brandon Clarke, Tristan Thompson, Khem Birch, Kelly Olynyk and Oshae Brissett are no longer participating. Kyle Alexander of Spain’s Fuenlabrada is also no longer with the team.
Despite the changes, the roster still features NBA talent headlined by RJ Barrett and Andrew Wiggins. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Lugentz Dort, Cory Joseph, Trey Lyles, Mychal Mulder and Dwight Powell will also represent the NBA on the roster. Trae Bell-Haynes, Anthony Bennett, Aaron Doornekamp, Melvin Ejim, Andrew Nembhard and Andrew Nicholson round out the 19 player roster.
Kellan Olson: Devin Booker said it's a blessing to be a part of Team USA for the Olympics but that his full attention right now is on this playoff run and the Phoenix Suns.
Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic said he will be joining the Croatian national team in the upcoming Olympic Qualifiers. Croatia is hosting one of the qualifying tournaments in Split, aiming to make its second straight Olympic Games.
“I’ll take part in the national team, so I’ll head right to training in 7 or 8 days,” Bogdanovic said during his season exit interview, per Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune.
Thankfully for Australia, the boy from Mareeba in Far North Queensland, is primed to use his pain from a poor NBA season as motivation to help the Boomers win a maiden Olympic medal in Tokyo. “The good thing is I’ve been able to shift my focus to the Olympics and getting my body right physically and focusing on what I need to get right to play with my second family out there representing Australia,” he said. “There is no better thing for us when it comes to playing basketball. So, as tough as the season had its ups and downs, the Olympics is something that I’ve been looking forward to.”
Baynes is currently spending time in Brisbane with family and training in preparation for the Boomers’ pre-Olympic training camp in Los Angeles from June 24 and next month’s warm-up games in Las Vegas. He has become well accustomed to training hard after spending two weeks in hotel quarantine prior to arriving home in Queensland. “I had the skipping rope and body weight exercises in quarantine, and I’ve continued that every morning as well as training at the gym,” he said. “I got out of quarantine just over a week ago, so I’m enjoying being back on Australian soil, all be it is going to be a short trip.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: Phoenix Suns All-Star guard Devin Booker has committed to join the 12-man Team USA roster for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, sources tell ESPN.
Marc Stein: The most pressing issue, obviously, is his availability for the Western Conference finals, but Phoenix's Chris Paul has been actively pursued this month by @usabasketball for a spot on the Tokyo Olympic team, league sources say. Lots for Paul, 36, to weigh amid a deep playoff run
Shams Charania: Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal has committed to Team USA for the Tokyo Olympics, sources tell me and @Joe Vardon. Beal joins Portland’s Damian Lillard, Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Golden State’s Draymond Green among initial pledges.
Tim Reynolds: As The Athletic and the Washington Post reported, Bradley Beal does intend to play for the United States at the Tokyo Olympics. Jayson Tatum still "leaning" that way; Damian Lillard has already committed.
Oshae Brissett has elected not to be with the Canadian Basketball National Team this summer, a source close to Brissett told Fieldhouse Files.
“There are more players of Nigerian descent in the NBA than probably any other country besides the U.S.,” said Mike Brown, who became Nigeria’s coach in February 2020. “And so the talent is there. It’s just about getting everybody organized and on the same page and getting everybody excited about playing and wanting to be a part. And so there are right around 10 or so guys in the NBA that are going to come and try out for the team. So looking forward to mixing some of that NBA talent with some very talented individuals that are playing professionally in Europe and abroad.”
Brown declined to divulge which NBA players are expected to be on the D’Tigers’ training camp roster. But sources say NBA players Al-Farouq Aminu, Chimezie Metu, Josh Okogie, Jahlil Okafor, Wes Iwundu, and Monte Morris, who is expected to be added as a roster exemption, will be there.
They are hosting an invitation-only camp from June 20 to June 23 including players currently in college, in the G League and internationally. Sources said it could also include former NBA players Emeka Okafor, Festus Ezeli and Ben Uzoh. Current NBA players are expected to join Nigeria’s training camp on June 27.
There was a small hurdle that officials from the Nigerian basketball federation had to clear before they could even talk to Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown about becoming their men's national coach. They needed his phone number. Nobody involved with the federation had it, so they started calling around and eventually word got to Brown they were seeking him out. Brown originally thought he had no interest, then — once they got the number — wound up taking the call and listening to their vision. "A chance to coach in the Olympics," Brown said, "made me think about it."
Brown — who sought the opinions of Golden State coach Steve Kerr, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich and others from USA Basketball when he was deciding how to proceed with the Nigerian offer — officially got hired about four months after the World Cup, and he's spent enormous amounts of time immersing himself in the role since. "I've become passionate about the potential and the people," Brown said. "I want these guys to have an experience. Now we might never be USA basketball, but I want these guys to have an experience where they can be proud of representing their country in these international games because they're just good dudes."
As many as three Heat players — Gabe Vincent, Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala — are serious candidates to play for Nigeria in these Olympics, and it's possible that most if not the entire Nigerian roster for Tokyo has NBA experience. "I'm just looking forward to having the next opportunity to hopefully go represent the country and represent the nation moving forward in the Olympics," Vincent said. "Mike Brown has definitely been in contact. He's been great reaching out to guys, communicating well and we're all looking forward to it and excited."
Before next season comes, Green will be representing Australia at the Olympics in Tokyo starting on July 23. That’ll give him a chance to work alongside NBA players such as Ben Simmons, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills. “Everything is kind of just getting thrown at me now, but my intentions will be to play for Australia,” Green said. “It’s always been a dream of mine as a kid. And also just as far from a development standpoint, just being able to get in games and just feel more comfortable on the court and be around guys like Ben, Joe Ingles Patty Mills and guys like that who have really helped me out and to just grow as a player. I’m really looking forward to it and just looking forward to the offseason in general.”
Portland’s All-NBA guard — who will be headed to the Olympics for the first time — explained some of his thinking Thursday about why he committed to the national team, which will gather in Las Vegas early next month to start training camp and play a series of exhibitions. “Pop being the coach of the national team played a big role in my decision to commit,” Lillard said. “I have a lot of respect for Pop as a coach and as a person. I look forward to playing for him, taking in his basketball knowledge and seeing what our team can do.”
Plenty of players have spoken about the lure of playing for Popovich, the San Antonio coach with five NBA championships. Knowing that Lillard is on the roster might help sway others to commit as well. “I’m just hoping we can put together a team of great players that fit as one,” Lillard said. “I don’t necessarily want them to say, `Oh, Dame is playing so I should play,’ but I do hope they see that top players are making the commitment and look at it as an opportunity to be a part of something special.”
“I remember watching the Redeem Team and it looked so fun,” Lillard said. “So many stars on one team being able to just play together unselfishly and have fun. That team connected basketball with the best players in the world. It just looked like a great time and they looked so free of their normal responsibility on their NBA teams. I became very interested in USAB because of that. It means a lot to add this to experience and represent my family and country on a major stage that I have not been on.”
After Nikola Jokic’s decision, two more NBAers have been added to Serbia’s list of players who decided not to join in this summer for the Olympics – Aleksej Pokusevski and Alen Smailagic. The two young prospects decided to prepare for the next season with their teams.
“Pokusevski decided to dedicate himself to his physical preparation for the next season. I respect his decision, but with his talent, he could have learned a lot in the national team. Smailagic also made the decision to prepare for the next season. I wish them all the best,” national team coach Igor Kokoskov explained.
The American men’s and women’s senior national teams are partnering with MGM Resorts International and will conduct their training camps in July at MGM properties ahead of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the company announced Thursday morning. Training camp begins July 6, and the teams will play a combined seven exhibition games against other national teams at Michelob Ultra Arena from July 10 to July 18.
“USA Basketball is proud to expand its partnership with MGM Resorts. We’re excited to bring our national teams to their properties as we prepare for the challenging competition that lies ahead this summer,” USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley said in a statement. “Training camps are such an important foundation for our preparation and having such a strong commitment from MGM positions us for great success.”
Joe Vardon: A Team Australia update. Even if the Jazz reach the Finals -- and it goes seven games, meaning it ends July 22, a day before Olympic opening ceremony -- Joe Ingles is playing for the Boomers. 'I’ll get on a plane the next day and I’ll make my way over to Japan.' @The Athletic
Marius Milasius: Ignas Brazdeikis will participate in the Lithuanian National team camp before the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Kaunas. Brazdeikis is officially a Lithuanian citizen, but doesn’t have his passport yet and is yet to be approved by FIBA. He will be among 14-15 NT candidates.
Rudy Gobert was one of five NBA players named to France’s Olympic men’s basketball roster on Thursday. Gobert, the Utah Jazz center, is joined by fellow NBAers Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Frank Ntilikina.
Why is this news? Because since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic — so, the Disney bubble, and then for the entire 2020-21 season — the league has not tested its players for marijuana. Due to the social restrictions to combat COVID-19, which meant a lot of isolation, the NBA chose to basically allow cannabis use.
May 16, 2022 | 9:00 pm EDT Update
Kyrie Irving — who has a decision to make next month on whether to opt-in to the final year of his Brooklyn contract — sat down for the latest “I Am Athlete” episode. He lifted the lid on a host of topics, including saying the Cavaliers would’ve stayed together longer and won more if he’d been more mature. “If I was in the same maturity line and understanding of who I am, and I look back, we definitely, definitely would’ve won more championships, because there would’ve been a better man-to-man understanding about what I’m going through. I didn’t know how to share my emotions,” Irving said. “I didn’t know how to do that. So instead of sharing, I isolated myself.”
Kyrie Irving: “I just started pouring myself more into the game — I had one of my better seasons but I wasn’t connecting with everybody as much during the championship year. So 2017, it was a different year for us. We went against Golden State, we went against a great team. When you’re not a great team and not clicking on all cylinders and together, you’re easily defeated. You’re defeated before you can get to the arena.”
While Irving has a $36.5 million opt-in decision to make, he’s at a different place in his life than he was when he asked out of Cleveland at 24. In hindsight, he regrets not speaking to LeBron James beforehand. “We didn’t talk during that time,” Irving admitted. “When I look back on what I was going through at that time, I wish I did, because it would’ve been a good understanding of what the future will hold for both of us and we know how much power we both had together. Me and him in the league together running Cleveland, and then being able to put a better team together every single year would’ve definitely been worth it.”
“Frustrating from an organizational standpoint. but even more so from Ben’s,: said Marks. “I had a conversation with Ben. We all did. We saw how he wanted to get out there. To be honest, I’ve got to admire that. He tries to do 3-on-3, 5-on-5 and then you turn around and get an MRI, You see the disc herniation has gotten worse. and you think, well this guy is pushing through something that he shouldn’t be pushing through. Nobody wants to have surgery. It’s the last resort but it’s bygone now and we’ve got to move forward on this, we’ve got to support him and so forth.”
Asked for lessons learned from the Simmons off-again, on-again saga. Marks used the opportunity to critique the critics. “It’s a little bit of a testament that 1) he tried to get back out there and tried to help his teammates and secondly, we have to be careful not judge people. And if you’re outside that medical profession, when you’re chiming in from afar. You just have to be a bit careful of what you’re saying because you really don’t know,” said Marks.
Marks spoke as well about he and Steve Nash have had “honest conversations” both about last season and the upcoming one. He reiterated the need for “high character players” and said he “could see no reason why” both Joe Harris and Seth Curry won’t be back healthy and ready for camp. “The ultimate goal hasn’t changed, that’s to be the last team standing.”
Young LeBron James has been found. Marquis “Mookie” Cook, a high-ranking high school basketball player, has been cast as the NBA superstar in Shooting Stars, Universal and SpringHill Co.’s adaptation of the 2009 book by James and Buzz Bissinger.