USA Men's Senior National Team Quote(s) of the Day
USA Basketball Menï¿½s Senior National Team
July 24, 2008 ï¿½ Las Vegas, Nevada
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University
On Chicagoï¿½s 2016 Olympic bid:
I think Chicagoï¿½s the perfect place for the 2016 Olympics. For one, itï¿½s a mini world. You go through Chicago and you go through Greek Town, Italian Town. Thereï¿½s Ukranian Town and, obviously for me, thereï¿½s Polish Town. Itï¿½s a mini world and I think the world would feel the most comfortable, they would feel at home in the 2016 Olympics in Chicago.
'(Winning a gold medal is) a great honor. I had the opportunity to do it twice. When you win gold medals, nobody can take that away from you. You can take that to your grandchildren and say ï¿½look, your grandfather won a gold medal.ï¿½ If they do that, thatï¿½s going to be one of the things that they remember forever.'
~ Gary Payton, 1996 and 2000 U.S. Olympic gold medalist
The design for the 2016 Olympics is absolutely magnificent. You already have a beautiful city and with these venues all over the city, itï¿½ll be a wonderland. I think the athletes will respond with record-breaking performances.
What is Jay Trianoï¿½s role with the USA Select Team and how has he help prepare the USA team for China?
Iï¿½ve known Jay Triano since he was a player for the Canadian National Team. When you think of international basketball, heï¿½s one of the top people. Heï¿½s taken that expertise to Toronto as an assistant and over the last two summers heï¿½s helped us immensely in our preparations for the qualifier and now for the Olympics. Him being here is invaluable.
Is the key getting the USA Select Team to play more like a European syle game?
Itï¿½s a different game. The more we can face the styles that weï¿½ll see in Beijing, the better. But also the rules. Jay, while heï¿½s been with us in each of these two years, has given a short talk to our team to explain the international game and to talk about it as someone who has strategized against the United States when he was the Canadian National Team coach. We appreciate that. Jayï¿½s a great friend for me and definitely a great friend to USA Basketball.
Is LeBron James definitely a no-go for tomorrow nightï¿½s exhibition game against Canada?
I think heï¿½s about a 95 percent no-go. I donï¿½t think we should have a guy play who hasnï¿½t really ï¿½ he went through a five on zero today and ran ï¿½ but he hasnï¿½t had contact. Weï¿½re better off giving him a few days until we get to Macao.
LeBron James in Time Magazine guarantees a gold medal:
I hope heï¿½s right. The thing is, if I guarantee I donï¿½t have the ability to back it up. He has the ability to back it up. If he said it, thatï¿½s our goal. We know itï¿½s going to be really difficult.
There are a lot of young players on this team, with the exception of Jason Kidd.
And Michael Redd. And we have Kobe, donï¿½t let him hear me say this, but heï¿½s not a young pup anymore either. Theyï¿½re much older than they were two years ago. All of them are much older than they were four years ago. Four of these guys were on our 2004 team, theyï¿½re all veterans. LeBron is still young but I think this was his sixth season in the NBA. Weï¿½re bringing men over to the Olympics.
On Chris Bosh:
Chris has a vital role for us. We need back-ups for Dwight Howard. Youï¿½re not going to have the same body type backing up. If we did, that person would be on the team. But we have a little bit of a different style and Chris affords us that. Heï¿½s trying to make that adjustment in how he plays the five and especially on the defensive end of the court.
Gary Payton, 1996 and 2000 U.S. Olympic gold medalist
Itï¿½s going to be a great thing for the simple fact that the three who lost it were LeBron, D-Wade and Carmelo, theyï¿½re going to play well. Theyï¿½re really going to have a chip on their shoulder and I think theyï¿½re going to bring the gold back.
On this team, everyone is saying that if there needs to be a shot made at the end of the game, whoeverï¿½s open is the go-to guy. Why is that?
Because they all can score. Itï¿½s not going to make a big difference when it comes down to whoï¿½s going to get the ball. All of these guys know how to score the ball so theyï¿½ll be fine. Whoever gets the ball will be able to do something with it and theyï¿½re going to do it.
Youï¿½ve been through two Olympic Games, what can you tell the guys who are getting ready to experience their first?
Theyï¿½ll be fine. Theyï¿½re professionals. Theyï¿½ve got some veterans who have been in the Olympics and who will guide them through it so theyï¿½ll be just fine.
What about some of the off-court Olympic experiences?
Theyï¿½re going to have a fine time at the Opening Ceremonies, walking in with all of the athletes, seeing all the athletes who might not be as high profile as them but who are working just as hard to make it there. Theyï¿½re going to have fun with that. It can bring you back down to reality when you look around and see that theyï¿½re all trying to make it (also), so we need to come here and be serious. But theyï¿½re going to have fun with that. Thatï¿½s going to be a good thing for them to do.
What do you remember about standing on the podium with a gold medal around your neck?
Thatï¿½s a great honor. I had the opportunity to do it twice. When you win gold medals, nobody can take that away from you. You can take that to your grandchildren and say ï¿½look, your grandfather won a gold medal.ï¿½ If they do that, thatï¿½s going to be one of the things that they remember forever.
Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets)
On LeBron James guaranteeing the gold medal:
He guaranteed it? Well, if he said it we have to go and do it.
Iï¿½m pretty sure heï¿½s not cocky or arrogant about it, heï¿½s just confident with the guys heï¿½s got around him.
What are you differently on the defensive end to avoid the losses you saw in 2004 and 2006?
Looking back at ï¿½04 and ï¿½06, we know what happened. We have that in the back of our minds. Over the past three years, thatï¿½s what weï¿½ve been working on. Coach Kï¿½s been stressing defense, defense, defense. I think each day weï¿½re getting better at that. Weï¿½re getting prepared for the ï¿½08 Olympics and we have a good chance of bringing that gold medal home.
What do you need to work on defensively?
Communication. The last couple of days, event the last couple of years, weï¿½ve been getting better and better at that each day. Like I said, weï¿½re getting ready for our first game.
On human rights issues that may come up during the Olympics:
The Olympics is about sport to me. Itï¿½s about football, what they call soccer over there, basketball and all the other sports going on. I donï¿½t think it has anything to do with politics.
Weï¿½re just there to play basketball. Thatï¿½s our sport. Weï¿½re there to play basketball and represent our country. We let our government deal with the politics.
LeBron, despite being injured, has been very much a part of practice as one of the teamï¿½s vocal leaders:
We still hear his voice, I can tell you that. We still hear his voice in a good way. Heï¿½s talking to the guys, heï¿½s getting guys together. He can see more from the sidelines than when heï¿½s out there on the court.
How much have you, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade grown and matured since 2004?
By us going what we went through in ï¿½04 brought us together, it made us a lot stronger than what we were before. We were always close but that brought us together a lot. All three of us matured a lot within ourselves, hanging around each other, learning a lot from the international game. Knowing what we went through and humbling ourselves helped us grow.
Carlos Boozer (Utah Jazz)
On LeBron James guaranteeing the gold medal:
You like that?
I do. Heï¿½s one of our leaders on this team. For the rest of us, we all believe weï¿½re going to win the gold medal so for him to go out there and say that puts the pressure on us to go out and compete at a high level. Iï¿½m looking forward to that.
In the NBA when an opponent guarantees a playoff series, what do you think of that?
As an opponent we get fired up at that. Iï¿½m sure, donï¿½t get me wrong, Iï¿½m sure what he said weï¿½re going to back him. But Iï¿½m sure the other teams will be hearing that and will be ready to play against us.
How is the international game different for you, what do you need to do differently?
For me, personally? Nothing. Iï¿½m just going to go out there and play. Itï¿½s a more physical game, which I love. Iï¿½m a very physical player so I get a chance to be more physical, especially off the ball. At the same time I believe that they do a great job of moving the ball, passing the ball, which is what we do in Utah already. We pass the ball a lot, we have a motion offense, which is what weï¿½re doing a lot. So Iï¿½m going to go out there and do what Iï¿½ve been doing.
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
On the teamï¿½s goal:
Winning the gold is the goal of our team. Thatï¿½s why weï¿½re here; weï¿½re here to win, to win the whole thing. Thatï¿½s the goal of every team that is playing in the Olympics. Thatï¿½s why we play.
I am looking forward to the opportunity. Iï¿½m here and I want to make the most of it.
What has the Select Team done to help you prepare?
I think they brought in a lot of energy. Theyï¿½re a young team that continues to come at you and that is what we will be facing in Beijing. They played with a high level of intensity on every possession and that has helped, especially with our conditioning..
Did they give you some tough games?
(Pause)ï¿½Some tough quarters (laughter).
When you are in Macao next week, how will you balance it between entertaining the fans, competing in the games and continuing to get ready for Beijing?
Iï¿½m not worried about entertaining the crowds. We entertain the crowds by doing what we do best and that is playing, playing hard. Plays that we make that seem spectacular or plays that look more simple, they come from playing the game the right way. So thatï¿½s what weï¿½re going to doï¿½weï¿½re going to focus on doing what we do best.
How does this team differ from past national teams?
I donï¿½t know. I can only tell you what guys who have played on prior teams have told me. Theyï¿½ve said this team is much more cohesive, much more united.
I think these Olympics will be special because of the hype surrounding the Games, the level of expectation, the anticipation that other countries have, seeing how they match up with us and how we match up with them. To see if we can dethrone Argentina.
How was this last practice today?
Well, this isnï¿½t our last practice. Itï¿½s our last practice in the States. We still have plenty of work to do. Itï¿½s great being here. Las Vegas has been great to us, but we look forward to moving on to Macao.
How much did you jell in the amount of time you had and were you surprised?
I wouldnï¿½t say surprised, I think weï¿½ve done a good job thus far. We have to get better in the weeks to come. Iï¿½m very pleased with the way weï¿½ve been playing. But we will continue to work on getting better on our defensive rotations, our offensive execution, just little things that we have to tighten up a little bit.
Talk about the expectations for the first game at the Olympics (against China Aug. 10). Thatï¿½s a heck of a home court advantage for China.
That place is going to be rocking. Itï¿½s a tough first game to have. Iï¿½m looking forward to it.
Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic)
On LeBron James guaranteeing the gold medal:
You have to visualize winning the gold. Thatï¿½s the main thing is us visualizing ourselves on the podium holding the gold medal. But we still have to go out there and play.
Is that a good thing?
Itï¿½s a good thing, but at the same time we donï¿½t want to get over confident. We have to stay humble, we have to know that we canï¿½t have too much pride. We canï¿½t get complacent. We just have to play our game.
Defensively, whatï¿½s the teamï¿½s focus this year?
To protect the 3-point line. Thatï¿½s the biggest thing, protecting the 3-point line and forcing them to take tough shots. The games we lost (in 2004 and 2006), the teams shot well behind the arc and also getting into the paint and dishing it out. I think we really have to work on better defense for those shots.
Were you worried about not being able to participate with this team?
I wasnï¿½t worried about it. I knew that my bodyï¿½s going to be healed and everything was going to be straight by the time we got ready to go to the Olympics.
Jason Kidd (Dallas Mavericks)
On his final international experience:
Iï¿½m excited. This is a great opportunity to play with some great, talented guys. For me, I want to have fun and enjoy this experience because for me, this is my last time going through international play and the Olympics. Iï¿½m looking forward to this great ride.
Is this a better team than the 2003 USA team that qualified in Puerto Rico for the 2004 Olympics?
That team was pretty good but unfortunately the majority of those guys didnï¿½t get to play in the Olympics. I think this team is pretty good too. Iï¿½m excited to have these guys on my team and Iï¿½m looking forward to the challenge of going against the rest of the world.
We have a great coach. We have great guys. I would go to battle with Coach K any day of the week and I think my teammates feel the same way.
Are you planning on soaking up the Olympic experience more this time around, given that itï¿½ll be your last?
I want to enjoy it all and just soak in the experience. In 2000 I kind of did that, but it was more like I was young and I felt I would come back again. Knowing that this is my last time going around, I want to enjoy it and I hope my teammates can enjoy that same kind of experience that I had in 2000.
What kind of feeling do you remember having during the 2000 Opening Ceremonies?
Itï¿½s unbelievable. It goes by too fast. Weï¿½re one of the last countries to be introduced and you walk in, see all the other countries, youï¿½re walking in with some of your fellow competitors, it gives you goose bumps. But now that I know how fast it goes by Iï¿½m going to try to walk a little slower.
Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets)
Do you feel that Jason Kidd and Deron Williams encourage you the same way you encourage your teammates?
Yeah, I think so. We all are just trying to come together and do whatever we need to do to win this gold medal. Itï¿½s not about who plays the most minutes, who gets the most shots. Itï¿½s about the USA winning at the end of the game.
How difficult is it to make the transition from NBA to FIBA rules?
Just about all of us have played international ball since high school so we know the rules. Thatï¿½s what we practice and prepare for.
Is it a matter of getting together in such a short period of time?
Yeah, we just have to get together and practice. Thatï¿½s what all this is for, to practice and get ready.
Are you getting to know these guys better?
We talk all summer. Just about all of us are already a tight-knit group. Weï¿½re not together all the time, right now weï¿½re pretty much with our families. A lot of have our families out here with us to be able to spend as much time with them before we leave before Saturday.
Youï¿½ll face China with the home court advantage right out of the gate:
Yeah, itï¿½ll be tough. They have Yao Ming, Yi, a lot of great guys. Itï¿½s going to be a tough task but we just have to take it one game at a time.
Michael Redd (Milwaukee Bucks)
Kobe Bryant is a great competitor. Does anybody compete as much as he does?
Yes, me! We all love to compete, but he is a fierce competitor, no doubt about it.
You never question his competitiveness. I love playing against him. Even in practice we go at each other, punch each other, push each other. I love playing against him, he raise your level of intensity.
How as the camp this week and talk about the game tomorrow?
Iï¿½m looking forward to the game, Iï¿½m looking forward to playing. We had some great practices to send us off right. Our camaraderie has been great. We all make one another better and we are ready to start playing somebody else.
How did the USA Select Team look? What did they bring to the table?
They were great. Thatï¿½s our future. They are talented and brought the best out of us. They competed hard, very competitive, very professional in their approach.
Did they win a few of the quarters?
Yes, a few of them, but we smashed them in the games. Theyï¿½re competitors and theyï¿½re going to play hard. But at the same time, I think we beat them by 40 or 50 for the game.
Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)
What are you focusing on here?
This camp is about getting the final preparations right. There is a lot being thrown at you at both ends of the floor. Weï¿½re looking forward to competing against someone other than ourselves. Right now weï¿½re competing against some of the best in the NBA, both on our team and the Select Team.
What about the first game at the Olympics against China? Talk about home court advantage.
Itï¿½s going to be good. It will start everything off with a bang. The crowd will be amazing. It will be packed and I am sure they are looking forward to it as much as we are. Itï¿½s going to be exciting.
Iï¿½ve never been to China and itï¿½s going to be a treat to be there. Any time you get the opportunity to go somewhere youï¿½ve never been, itï¿½s exciting. It will be an unbelievable experience. There are so many things to go over there for now. Itï¿½s not just our games, but the other sports as well. Weï¿½ll get the opportunity to see some other sports and be fans and root on our teams and athletes.
What is like playing with Kobe?
Itï¿½s great. Like LeBron said, we have the opportunity to play with guys you always compete against and now you get to be teammates. Itï¿½s like, wow, if I had this guy on my team, we would be champions. And we have all the guys on this team that you can dream of. Itï¿½s great because you donï¿½t have to go out and do everything.
Yesterday LeBron guaranteed a win, what do you think?
You know I really donï¿½t understand the big deal about guaranteeing a win. We all feel weï¿½re going to win, so whatï¿½s the difference with him saying weï¿½re going to? You know some people are reporting it as a king size guarantee, but we all guarantee that weï¿½re going to go over there, weï¿½re not going to guarantee weï¿½re going to lose. You have to feel youï¿½re going to win. Thatï¿½s how we all feel. Thatï¿½s how you have to approach it. We want to win.
Whatï¿½s the difference between confidence and guaranteeing a win?
I donï¿½t think thereï¿½s much of a difference. Youï¿½re supposed to feel that you can win every time you go out there. Thatï¿½s our goal. We are going over there with the goal of winning the Gold. Thatï¿½s what our vision is.
Deron Williams (Utah Jazz)
Are you looking forward to playing against Canada?
Definitely. It gives us a chance to play someone other than the Select team and against someone who is familiar with the international style of play. It will be a good test for us.
What did you guys focus on this week?
We focused mostly on defense. With this team weï¿½re not going to worry about scoring, because thatï¿½s going to happen. We focused on defensive principles, defending against the pick and roll and a few other points of emphasis.
Are you looking forward to being in China?
Most definitely. I like to travel. Iï¿½ve never been to China and it should be a great experience.