NBA Rumor: Olympic Games

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RJ Marquez: Kevin Durant with a message to those who doubted Team USA and Gregg Popovich. This was on Instagram live: “They were talking s*** about Pop saying he couldn’t get us to lock in…stop playing man! We were going to get this dub.” pic.twitter.com/xCQxeh4CwL

2 months ago via FIBA

The math is simple. Eight players were not enough to even have a regular basketball 5v5 practice. You hear players mention the word “sacrifice” a lot. But what the men from the top offices of the USA Basketball had to do to get the team to where they wanted to be took even more than sacrifice, because the three players from the USA Select Team knew they were always going to be in the background. They didn’t care, though. They were ready to join the team in the exhibition games before the Olympic Games. They even made the trip to Japan to help the squad play 5v5 in practices until the NBA Finalists arrived. Draymond Green doesn’t want you to forget about them. “We had three guys, John Jenkins, Cam Reynolds and Josh (Magette) who gave up their time with no reward in the end, except to see this team win the gold medal,” Green said after winning the Final against France in the Saitama Super Arena. He went on: “Those guys are special. We had nine guys, we lost Bradley Beal, Kevin Love – we started losing guys, and those guys were here. Doing everything we needed to win a gold medal. It’s a very special group, it’s not just the twelve guys you saw win the gold medal.”

This time, though, he wasn’t standing at attention. While his Team USA players hooted, hollered and waved Old Glory on the court in front of him, celebrating the Olympics vindication that their 72-year-old coach had craved his entire adult life, Popovich sat alone in his chair on the sideline at Saitama Super Arena. “I was totally frozen,” Popovich said after USA Basketball beat France 87-82 in the Tokyo Games gold-medal game Saturday. “I didn’t do anything. I sat there scared to death.”

“Tonight, our guys were pretty special on him,” Popovich said of Mills. “But he has been special for the Spurs, and he’s moving on to Brooklyn now. And we’ll miss him a great deal. But I think it’s a good move for him, he’ll get to play for a team that’s going to be a contender. And I’m thrilled with the victory, obviously, but when I looked him in the eyes, I felt badly because they do have great camaraderie and great history and culture. And they want it just as badly as any of us. So, that was a little bit sad, but that’s what we all do, right? We all try to win.”

The Australians credited Team USA’s swarming, switching defense. Australian coach Brian Goorjian said “​​unique to the competition from everybody else we’ve played is their ability to switch 1 through 5.” He said that ability is not only what makes the USA the favorite in this tournament, but also “they’re as good a Team USA team that I’ve played against.” It’s an interesting statement, given that this team has lost three games and Goorjian was coaching in the 2008 Olympics — the year of the “Redeem Team.”

Luka Doncic rips officiating after loss to France

Luka Doncic’s disappointment with Slovenia’s loss to France in the second Olympic Games semifinal was more than obvious in the finale with the Dallas Mavericks superstar also expressing his frustration on his way to the locker room. After the end of the game, Doncic was shouting “FIBA is probably happy” while walking through the media mixed zone per ’15min’. He was also reported to shout “FIBA happened” while Slovenia big man Ziga Dimec was being asked questions about the game.

Callie Caplan: Luka’s opening statement after Slovenia’s semifinal loss to France: “We might have surprised a lot of people … but we’re not giving up yet.” He’s got ice wrapped around his left wrist after crashing into the courtside plexiglass, but said it’s just precautionary.

FIBA | #Basketball #Tokyo2020: 🗣️ “Nicolas is a class act. He told me he hates playing against me, but in a good way. That was nice of him, he’s just a class act.” – @luka7doncic 🇸🇮 #Tokyo2020 | #Basketball

This situation never happens — never does the start of free agency coincide with the Olympics. To make it even stranger, Japan is 13 hours ahead of the American East Coast. So when free agency began at 6 p.m. Monday in the States, it was 7 a.m. Tuesday in Japan. Teams cannot talk to players before then, but preliminary discussions with player agents dominate the hours (and days) leading up to the official start of free agency. “This morning I woke up at 3:30, I called my agent, like, ‘You gotta get a deal done right now so I can move on from it,’” Batum said.

Ben Golliver: Argentina, Australia and a few hundred spectators salute Luis Scola with a standing ovation as he checks out of Olympic quarterfinal. Scola just completed his fifth Olympics at age 41. pic.twitter.com/nxoQgpV0zF

By now, the explanations and excuses are worn. New team. Short training camp. Three players at the NBA Finals. Greater continuity for other countries. COVID-19 took Bradley Beal off the roster. Injuries kept other stars out. The Americans are two wins from overcoming all of it. “As we started to practice a bit more, and going through those losses, we started to understand our roles a bit more and coach started to understand the rotation,” Durant said. “I think you mix all of that in the pot, you start to build a real team. That’s what I feel like we are at this point.”

Holiday has been arguably the Americans’ top all-around player at the Olympics, averaging 12.3 points, four rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.7 steals. He came off the bench in the loss to France (but led the team with 18 points and seven boards) because he’d arrived to Tokyo about a day earlier from the NBA Finals. He’s made winning plays, some show up in the box score and some don’t, and he gives Team USA’s potentially potent offense a facilitator and rugged defender at the other end. “I think (my game) fits,” Holiday said. “I feel like I’m here to assist, I’m here to rebound, I’m here to penetrate and make plays for other people, and then pick up full court and be really aggressive defensively. It’s right in my wheelhouse.”
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September 23, 2021 | 4:49 am EDT Update
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