“I was in Nigeria in 2011 and I remember my uncle telling me: ‘If you get the chance to play with Nigeria, you have to do it’,” said Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Josh Okogie, who emigrated to the United States with his family from Africa’s most-populous nation when he was three-years old. “That resonated with me,” added the versatile player, now 22, who passed on his second two years of college ball at Georgia Tech to join the NBA. “The country of Nigeria carries so much pride when one of their teams goes onto the world stage.”
“A medal? It would mean the world to me,” said Okogie, who was influential in recent warm-up wins over 2004 Olympic gold-medallists Argentina and a shock 90-87 victory in Las Vegas over the United States – a first in Nigeria’s history. “Our whole focus is just on trying to win this medal. We know the potential we have. It’s not our job to prove anyone wrong or right, but we want to get the best result we can at the end of the day.”
“I want everybody to see how hard we play on defense and – something we can always control, pressuring and switching,” Okogie said about one of his team’s main strengths just days after a big loss to Australia (108-69) may have taken some wind out of Nigerian sails. “Offensively, we like to get into the paint, kick it out, and knock down threes. We can make the extra pass and we’re not afraid to shoot the ball when we’re open. “In the Olympics, every game counts and you have to almost win all of your games to get the gold,” concluded a motivated Okogie who, along with his Nigerian teammates, stands ready on the cusp of history. “And our goal…is that gold.”
However, Harris, who turned 29 on Thursday, is out of the country on vacation. He is scheduled to return Saturday evening. The U.S. has two exhibition games remaining in Las Vegas. It has a scheduled rematch with Australia on Friday before facing Spain on Sunday.
Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams will have one eye on the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, with not one but two of his sisters competing. With the Tokyo Olympics now just a week away, the New Zealand contingent are arriving in the Japanese capital ahead of the start of the games. Among them will be both Dame Valerie Adams and younger sister Lisa Adams.
Despite being in his NBA off-season with New Orleans Pelicans, 27-year-old Steven Adams will be supporting his older sisters from afar. "I'm definitely following her," Steven Adams told Magic Talk of older sister Dame Valerie. "My other sister, Lisa, is also participating in the Paralympics. I'll be watching those two very closely."
Rockets center Christian Wood is among the players under consideration for a spot on the USA Basketball Olympic team, a person with knowledge of the process said on Thursday.
Wood, who has fully recovered from his ankle injury during the season, had often said he would consider it a dream to compete on the Olympic team. Even late in the season, he said he hoped to play in Tokyo July 23 through Aug. 8.
Neil Dalal: Draymond Green says that if Team USA wins gold in Tokyo he hopes Bradley Beal receives one too because he made the commitment to represent his country.
Fred Katz: Gregg Popovich on who could replace Bradley Beal on the Team USA roster: "There’s no next Bradley Beal, just like there’s no next Damian Lillard or next KD. All these guys are different. So, maybe a utility infielder of some sort."
Ava Wallace: As far as picking someone to replace Beal, Popovich says one of the biggest considerations is choosing someone who's in shape. Team USA's been conditioning and working on how they want to play for a week.
Chase Hughes: Gregg Popovich says he does not "think that's in the cards" when asked if Jerami Grant will also miss the Olympics after entering health and safety protocol.
A person with knowledge of the situation says U.S. Olympic guard Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards has entered the health and safety protocols related to the coronavirus, which raises the possibility that he might miss the Tokyo Games.
Beal will be tested multiple times in the coming days, according to the person who spoke Wednesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the player involved for USA Basketball was not revealed publicly. The results of those tests will likely determine if he remains on the roster, the person said. USA Basketball could still replace Beal before heading to Tokyo.
Shams Charania: Wizards star Bradley Beal has entered health and safety protocols at Team USA camp, placing his return to play status up in the air, sources tell me and @Joe Vardon.
Tim Reynolds: AP source: USA Basketball guard Bradley Beal has entered the health and safety protocols in Las Vegas, raising the possibility that he may not be able to attend the Tokyo Games. There is nothing definitive about that at this point.
The Jump: "I talked to Mike Brown (Nigeria head coach) after the game, he's not taking a salary with this team" 🇳🇬 —@Brian Windhorst #TheJump
The Australian Olympic team Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman selected the flag-bearers. Chesterman rang Patty Mills and said he would be honoured if — as one of Australia's Olympic team leaders — he would accept the role. There was no hesitation on Mills's part. "It was an easy decision. I am very proud of who I am. I am very comfortable in my own skin," Mills said.
Patty Mills: "I get thrilled and excited about the opportunity to be able to tell people who I am and where I'm from. At the end of the day I imagine little girls and little boys, whether they are at home or at school … I can picture them and what they might feel or how they'll react when they see someone like me being a representative of them. That's what it's all about, right? Having the next generation come up and be true to themselves, proud of who they are, proud of their identity, and to wear that on their chests … that can help them achieve their dreams."
As much as we would love to have fans and supporters and everyone cheering everyone on, we do have to respect the rules and that part is out of our control. "It doesn't change our focus, and everyone's focus on why we're there and what we're trying to achieve." And is that a medal? "One hundred per cent," Mills said. And is that medal gold? "One hundred per cent."
Kane Pitman: Asked @Dante Exum about his decision to play in the Olympics for Australia. "It was no decision. It's always been my dream to play in an Olympic Games. I told my agent straight away, I don't care what anyone has to say, if they had any advice. This is what I'm doing."
Rob Schaefer: Zach LaVine on players recruiting each other during Olympics: "Players gonna be players, man. You gonna mingle and talk. But we're here for one goal, we're trying to win the gold medal. I think whatever comes from that -- friendships, teammates -- I think that's an afterthought..
Tim Reynolds: The U.S. opens the Olympics against France on July 25. Kevin Durant confirms that he's already "talking s***" to Nets teammate Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot about that game. "Yeah, he can't guard me," KD said. Oh, this is going to be fun.
Carlos Sanchez Blas: Juancho Hernangomez is out for the Olympics due to a dislocated collarbone.
Rod Beard: #Blazers Damian Lillard on his role with Team USA: "I know that I'm not going to have to be in the same role as in Portland ... I think I can show that I'm a good defender without as much responsibility on the offensive end, with so much talent (on Team USA)."
Mark Medina: Suns coach Monty Williams on Devin Booker playing in the Tokyo Olympics whenever the NBA Finals ends: "Devin is one of those guys that loves to hoop." Williams added that Booker "has unreal energy."
Anthony Slater: Steph Curry said it was a "hard decision" to pass on the Olympics: "I do value the offseason. I am working out, back on the court. But to try to go and play, there's a lot that can happen...It just wasn't right for me. Very confident in that decision. No regrets."
Wes Goldberg: Draymond Green said that he didn't try to push Steph Curry to play for Team USA. "I don't need to try to push him to play for Team USA because I already know the reasons why."
Wes Goldberg: Draymond Green on why he decided to play for Team USA in the Olympics: "It was never a question for me. This is what we work for. You work for the accolades, you work to be on top of the world."
Omari Sanfoka II: Jerami Grant on making the Olympic team: "I was blessed when I got the call. It was an honor. I love to play the game, that’s why I’m here. I told my family, everyone was excited for me."
Omari Sanfoka II: Jerami Grant said is role on the USA Basketball team is to bring energy. "I’m going to be playing a lot of defense, hitting open shots, being aggressive when I get the opportunity."
This week at Team USA's training camp ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, Popovich is getting to see Beal up close and personal to a degree he hasn't before. One thing has surprised him in particular. "He's stronger than I expected. He's a strong young man. I always used to think of him as wiry and thin, but I was totally wrong. He's thick," Popovich said.
Chase Hughes: Jayson Tatum describes Bradley Beal as "A mentor and an older brother that I technically didn't have in the house [growing up]... someone that I've always looked up to and still look up to to this day."
Chase Hughes: Bradley Beal says he didn't know he was the first Wizards player to represent the franchise and city for Team USA in the Olympics. Called it an honor.
Souichi Terada: Bradley Beal on playing with Jayson Tatum: "We're both excited. For one, we grew up 5 minutes from each other. To have two of the same guys from the same high school on the same team, I don't know if that's ever happened for USA Basketball."
Ava Wallace: After USA Basketball practice today, Gregg Popovich is asked what he likes best about Bradley Beal. "His movement. He is hard to keep up with." Pop also said Beal's stronger than he thought. Assumed was wiry but in fact, he is thick. So it shall be
Tim Reynolds: Pop hasn't decided on captaincy yet for the U.S. Olympic basketball team. He says he's "waiting to see where it lands."
Ira Winderman: Gregg Popovich calls Erik Spoelstra, who's guiding the USA Basketball Select Team a "fantastic young coach." Spoelstra is the second-longest-tenured coach in the NBA, to Pop.
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).
January 28, 2022 | 4:46 am EST Update
Zach Lowe: I’ve also heard that people are calling the Spurs and trying to see if they can get Derrick white or even Dejounte Murray
Chris Haynes: There’s another player we’re going to add to this dynamic. Michael Rubin. For those who don’t know, the Sixers co-owner is very, very, very good friends with James Harden. And I’ve been talking to a rival owner, talking to rival front office executives, who believe that there can be some talk going on now between both sides.
Chris Haynes: Some front office executives are prepared to… when the time comes, if a deal does look like is about to transpire where there could be some potential sign-and-trade in the offseason… They’re prepared to get the league involved on a potential collusion case dating back to what they what they believe could be going on right now, you know as to why we’re probably hearing a lot of Philadelphia, James Harden talk. I was told there will be complaints issued to the league on try to investigate to see if there was any collusion.
Like it may also be coming from there, but I’ve heard this. I’m sure you have to, like it’s other people around the league who are not part of Brooklyn’s, uh, franchise or part of the Sixers, who have said they’re hearing that James Harden is looking around wondering what his other options may be and eyeing Philly because of the obvious. Relationship with Daryl Morey, trust there from other years in Houston together. Hardens also tight with Michael Rubin, one of the Sixers owners, no mystery about this stuff, but I was hearing an entire case being made for why Harden might go to Philly this summer and it’d have to be via sign and trade of course, from an executive who is not with either of these franchises.
People close to James Harden, they feel like almost a loyalty to Daryl Morey, because Morey was with the Rockets when they traded for James Harden. The organization, the way things played out, helped make James Harden a superstar. He did it on his own, but certainly might not have happened if he wasn’t in another organization
But eight-time All-Star Vince Carter disagreed, believing the Nets need to do their due diligence and assess the trade market for Harden. “If you’re the Brooklyn Nets, what’s wrong with taking calls? Because if Harden chooses to go elsewhere, you’re left with nothing. So just make sure you know what’s going on or at least have an idea what the market looks like,” he said. “You want to make sure you get something in return, they want to make sure they get the right pieces to add to this Brooklyn team if they lose Harden.
I haven’t heard anything regarding Beal as far as putting feelers out kind of testing the waters with him. I just think what I’ve heard is that, you know, basically everyone’s available in Washington if there’s something that can upgrade this roster