Additional Quotes From Gold Medal Game
On winning the gold:
I said previously, if we were to have won this year with all of the adversity that we went through this would be the sweetest of all of the championships, and I feel that way. The amazing thing about all that has happened is that we have used so many different players to win these championships, which is a testament to the game in our country and the depth of talent that we have, and to our staff and the leadership of Coach K and our assistant coaches. I couldn't be more proud of our team.
On teamwork and balance:
We talked about selflessness on this team when we got together in Las Vegas, and I think this team epitomized that. Different people stepped up on different nights to lead the charge, and it was just a great experience. I think there's going to be so much growth in each of these players' careers as they go forward in the NBA with their respective teams, and I'm pleased that we could serve as, not a training ground, but a development ground for the NBA in terms of making these players better prepared for the success that might lie ahead for them.
On the growth of the team:
There was a growth that you saw during the course of the six weeks that we were together for sure. From feeling your way to feeling comfortable to feeling good and then, you know, tonight's performance was like a culmination of all of that development, because we have been waiting for a game where we just blow it out, and that's exactly what happened.
On how hard the USA team worked:
We think this may be, with no discredit to our previous teams, this may have been the hardest working team because the attitude was there. This was the youngest team we've ever had, and maybe that's a part of that reason or logic. The work ethic was terrific. We couldn't have asked for more. We were really pleased with our staff, like I said earlier. And so, this was a great experience. It was a wonderful experience. There weren't any hiccups along the way once we left Las Vegas. Obviously the Paul George incident, the injury, set a tone. But we were able to overcome that, and that is a great credit to all of the players who stayed with us.
On already having qualified for the 2016 Olympics:
I think that's always in the back of our minds. In terms of immediately qualifying that gives us an opportunity to take a break during the summer next summer, and yet we still plan to get together and just prepare for the Olympics. But it will be under a different atmosphere. Not one of preparation in competition over the next month or month and a half that it would have required. We'll get together for four or five days in Las Vegas and prepare ourselves for 2016.
On the state of USA Basketball:
I'm very pleased and excited and happy for where USA Basketball is today. I can think back to 2005 when I was asked to take on that responsibility, and we had a game plan and now we're seeing the fruition of that over the last decade. And it's resulted in four gold medal championships, and it doesn't get much better than that.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
On the FIBA World Cup:
Congratulations to Serbia on a great run. Those first five minutes of tonight’s game they knocked us back. I thought DeMarcus Cousins had about five plays in the middle of the first half that really turned a positive eight-to-ten points for us then our whole team gelled. Obviously, Kyrie (Irving) and James (Harden) were amazing. This has been a great group to work with. They always wanted to work, they were very well prepared and I am proud of them. There were a lot of interruptions and they stayed focused on the team that they were going to play next. They respected the process and as a result the process turned out really good. I do want to thank the people of Spain from Gran Canaria to Bilbao to Barcelona to Madrid. We could not have been treated at a higher level than the people of Spain have treated us. It’s been magnificent. We come away obviously with a world championship but with a love for this country. The tournament was run great; we never had a problem. Thanks to all the organizers and the people who helped. We feel very privileged to be called world champions.
What makes this medal unique compared to the last four?
Each one is special because it’s a different team each time. The one thing that’s the same is the culture that Jerry Colangelo and USA Basketball staff and we have built as a coaching staff, the culture and the environment has stayed the same. All four teams, I wouldn’t say bought in to it, they’ve loved it. They didn’t have to be sold. They wanted to be a part of it. With all the interruptions we had and who we thought might be there, injuries, and in fact I just got off the phone with Paul George, just to tell him that he has been with us the whole way. This is as good for me as anything – national championships, Olympics, this group and what they did was really special for me.
What did you say to your team during the timeout in the first-quarter when you were down?
Well we made a sub and I said that they were being more physical than we were, and the other thing was that they were trying to run it down our throats. We adjusted, instead of picking up full court we picked up half, and we had not done that the entire tournament. That’s where (DeMarcus) Cousins came in. Cousins really I think turned the game around. I don’t only think; I know. Watching I’m saying ‘whoa’ we just made another stop, or he just made another stop. He knocked the ball of the rim, and they didn’t score. (Nenad) Krstic wasn’t able to score because he bodied up on him. It’s more of we have to pick it up physically and our guys did that.
On the sweetness of this victory:
I think whenever you win again, it’s the sweetest one. Because no one guarantees you the sweets. So, this was sweet. You’re not going to trade Olympic gold medals in Beijing and London, they were sweet, too. The thing that these guys did was they did not pay attention to things that would normally be excuses. Like, ‘We’re not going to be able to do this because of …’ We did have to change a lot when Kevin (Durant) decided not to play, because it changed our offense. Tonight we hit a lot of threes. Kyrie was pretty good from three – 6-for-6, not bad. But, we invented new ways to score: off our defense, offensive rebounding. It wasn’t the three-point shot like the 2012 Olympics. So, they adjusted to everything we asked them to do. As perfect as they could be, I think they were as perfect as a coach could want them to be for 50 days. Now, maybe for 55, 50 days was our limit, but for that amount of time it was pretty good.
On this final result after his initial assessment that this was an inexperienced team:
I think the results were dominant, but we had spurts of dominance in a lot of games. And, we had tough games, and then all of a sudden we’d have a spurt and it looked like we dominated. Tonight, we had like a 35-minute spurt. Tonight we played great. Tonight was a heck of a performance in those last 35 minutes.
Do you think the performance of the USA Basketball team improved throughout the tournament and who was the key factor?
We improved every game. All the guys. We got to know each other. I can’t single out one guy because Kyrie is deserving of MVP, but I think you could look at our games and we had a different star each game. Klay Thompson was so critical for this team. DeMarcus tonight, James Harden, Anthony Davis, especially at the start of our run. Kenneth (Faried) gave us a lot of energy. It was not like there was one star. They were a championship team, and it was kind of cool. In 2010 Durant just kind of took us. He had an amazing performance. Team-wise this is a heck of a team. This was a really good team.
How important was it to win the FIBA World Cup?
Thank you for that question. When we started out nine years ago Jerry and his staff, we had two goals. One was to try to win gold medals, 1A, and 1B was to win the respect of our country and the world and how it would be done. I think one of the reasons we won is because we do have that respect. We know how good everyone is. It’s beautiful basketball. We prepare like crazy and we learn from the international community. We get better instead of saying we already know how to play. There’s a lot of different ways to play and these last four competitions we’ve seen beautiful basketball. In the medal round what Serbia did was unbelievable. We were ready to play because they are so good. To see the French play so well. We also know that one bad game, like what happened to Spain. Spain’s a magnificent program and magnificent team. It just takes one bad day. So what we are trying to do is make sure we don’t have bad days. So far it’s worked out.
Do you think in your coaching experience that the gap has widened with European teams, the same or reduced?
I think the European team or an international team, because some of the best teams we’ve played against have been from South America with Argentina and Brazil. I think we can lose our next game. That’s the way we prepare because we know how good everyone is, and so I don’t see a gap. I see good basketball, and that we’ve been able to win. The score indicated like it was dominating, but if you watched throughout, we had to work like crazy and we were put in tough situations and thank goodness that we were a close enough group to get through that. International basketball is terrific, and we just feel privileged that we’ve won the last four competitions. I don’t think any gap has been widened. I don’t think there is a gap. That’s why 20 percent of the NBA is international and a lot of the guys who aren’t in the NBA are . . . this team they have a couple of really good young players who probably would be in the NBA. (Bogdan) Bogdanovic will go there eventually. There is just good basketball throughout the world, and we understand that and are just trying to beat that competition.
DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
On winning Gold:
It's an incredible feeling. This is a month of dedication and a group of guys that fought hard. We were down in front of the game and we proved to the world that anything is possible.
On the competition in the Tournament:
I'm not going to say that (it was easy). We had some tough teams in this tournament. Some fought battles, and we came out on top, so that's the big thing.
On his game tonight:
Guys (have) been preaching to me since the beginning of the tournament that there was going to be a game where they really need me. And Anthony (Davis) so happened to get in foul trouble tonight, and it was time for me to step up. It felt good for me to help this team win a championship. There is no better feeling.
What does it mean to you to stand here with a gold medal around your neck?
It feels incredible. I fought hard to make this team. I made the team, and once the team came together we were doubted in the beginning. People said we weren’t going to be able to do it and beat certain teams. We proved to the world that anything is possible.
What did you learn about this program and about yourself over the last six weeks?
It’s bigger that yourself and that’s what we showed in this tournament. A group of talented guys came together, put their egos aside and got the goal done. We completed the goal, and that’s winning the gold medal.
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
On the Gold Medal Game:
It was really fun. They came out with a strong push in the first five minutes. We calmed down and got back to what we have been doing to be successful the whole tournament. And this is what we came here for, to finish it out and win a gold medal and keep it going.
On the Third Quarter:
We knew that they were playing hot, that they were very confident coming into the game, so for us to answer the way they were playing in the first half and get a great lead and be able to keep the pressure on them in the second half, it was fun.
On the team being balanced:
Everybody contributed. Obviously Kenneth (Faried) and Kyrie (Irving) played well all tournament, especially tonight, and James (Harden) as well. For us to win a gold medal everybody was going to have to be a part of it and whether it was on defense or offense or both to have an impact on the game and that's what we did.
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
What does it mean for you to get this gold medal?
It means a lot. We came here and worked real hard to try and get this. Everybody played team basketball, and that’s what happens when you play team basketball.
What did you learn from this experience?
I learned to grow as a player. I got a lot of great talent around me, with great players, great coaches and they just taught me how to be a better player and a better person. I learned how to play through adversity, how to stop picking up silly fouls and just become a better player overall. I learned a lot. I been around some of these guys for the second time, and I love playing with these guys and I love playing in this environment.
DeMar DeRozen (Toronto Raptors)
How does it feel to win the gold medal?
It’s definitely an honor, especially to represent our country and play the way the way we played with all these superstars on one team. It definitely means a lot.
What did you learn from this experience?
To play as a team. When you are around great players sometimes you might need to use what isn’t your strength. You might need to do other things to help your team win and make them better.
Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons)
What does it feel like to win this gold medal?
It’s an amazing feeling. This is my third gold medal, and this one feels so much better than the others, winning it with my fellow NBA players. We played hard this whole tournament and came out with a big win. I can’t wait to wear that gold medal around my neck.
What did you learn from this experience?
When you’re representing your country it means something every game. It makes you not want to take this game for granted.
Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets)
On tonight's win:
You always save your best for last, right? That's what everybody says. It's a saying, we save the best for last, and that's what we did tonight. We saved the best for last to go home with this gold medal right here. It means the world, you know? It’s one of many championships that I hope to achieve in my life.
On the difficulty of the game:
I believe getting to the gold medal and playing in the game was easier than what we did back in July, just getting after it and guys playing hard and trying to make the team. I believe this was easier for us because we played so far against each other and pushed each other so hard in practice and workouts that it made the game come easier.
On Coach K:
Coach K? He does a wonderful job coaching us. He does a wonderful job keeping us intense and ready for every game.
On the tournament:
We won the gold, so that's all that matters, right? That's what we came here to do and we achieved our goal tonight.
On being named All-Tournament:
That's just an accolade; it's not really nothing big. I don't take it as, ‘oh, ok, I’m one of the top players.’ I just take it as I’m one of the players who helped my team win a gold, and that’s what I set out to do and that’s what we did.
On the USA team:
It was an all-around team effort. It was not just one player just dominating or they had to stop one player. If they stopped one player, another player stepped up. If they stopped that player another player stepped up. And that's what just kept happening. We just kept hitting them with waves and waves of great teammates.
Rudy Gay (Sacramento Kings)
What does this gold medal mean to you?
This is number two. This one is for my son. It just feels good to start something and finish it off with a great win.
What was different this time around for you?
It was a whirlwind. Everything went so fast. The fact that we came out victorious was great.
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
On what it means to win:
We worked so hard this past couple of weeks. Our coaches have done a great job of making sure that we were mentally and physically prepared for every single game, and tonight is what it is all about, coming home with a gold medal.
On the Tournament:
Once we figured out what the group was, we got it rolling. We started exhibitions in Chicago and New York and even in Gran Canaria. We found a groove early, and guys just got it going and no matter who, it was a different leading scorer every single game, but our focus was getting the win.
On tonight's game:
Just making plays, you know? In a big time game you just have to make plays. I kinda started it off, and Kyrie (Irving) kept it going and everybody else followed along. You have so many great players on this team that made the job easier.
On Kyrie Irving:
He's talented. That's what he does.That's why he's an all-star. That's why he is where he is. He touches everybody on this team. This was a great experience for us, and ultimately we came here for one goal and that was to win a gold medal, and that's what we got done.
On what playing on the national team means:
It's a great way to represent our country. This is a lot of our first times here to compete for a world championship, and to finish out this way says a lot about our team.
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
How does it feel to win the gold?
It’s the greatest feeling in the world right now. Dealing with a group of guys that are my brothers. This means so much more to our country – three days after 9/11. A lot of pride, a lot of things we did to prepare for this trip. A lot of mental things and a lot of physical things that brought us closer together. I’m glad that the journey ends with a gold medal.
You’ve talked all along about this being the best experience of your life. Why is that?
You get a chance to meet guys you watch film during the year. I’m a fan of all these guys. I don’t think they understand. Being with them and learning from them every single day, you run up and down, you realize that these are special players that you play against every single night, but you don’t realize how good they are until you see them work, until you’re around them and see the type of people they are, and how they are every single day. For me it’s about building relationships, and being with guys that are throwing themselves all in. We’re all going for one goal. This whole time, since July 27, this journey has been great. Guys that I’ve built relationships with, they’re good friends of mine, and now we go home with a gold medal. This is something we can tell our kids one day. Stephen Curry, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried, DeMarcus Cousins, DeMar DeRozan, all these guys are on this team, they’re my brothers now.
On winning the FIBA World Cup and the tournament MVP:
This is by far the biggest accomplishment of my life. We did it with a bunch of guys that came together on July 27, and we have been together every day since, except the 10-day period we had off. This feels amazing. It’s one of the greatest feelings that I’ve ever felt. All the emotions haven’t come to me yet but I did it with a bunch of guys that I can call my brothers for the rest of my life. Being a part of USA Basketball allowed me to do that and build relationships that will last a life time. This is great to win a gold medal with all these great guys.
On what he can take from this experience back to the Cleveland Cavaliers:
For me it was about going out there and playing with other great players in the world. I’ve never gotten to experience that. USA basketball, being a part of it, you’re part of something bigger than yourself. I just kind of threw myself in there, whatever coach needed, whatever all my teammates needed, I was going to do. I think we all shared that thought and that same heart and passion. For me, it was just, you’re out there running the court with Kenneth Faried and DeMarcus Cousins, and Anthony Davis, guys that you’re fans of that you never get the chance to play with in America. So, for me, it was taking advantage of every opportunity I got with these guys, every opportunity I got with the coaches, just trying to learn from them as much as possible to take back to my team. For me, it was just enjoying every single day because nothing is guaranteed. Regardless of what everybody said, this one right here means a lot.
How much work did you put in before camp began and do you think that helped you?
I talked to Coach and he called me three times? Twice? He kept asking me if I was in shape. There was a little bit of pressure there, but for me it was just coming in and just being ready. Like I said, just coming in and throwing myself in there and whatever happens happens, and living with the results. For me, I don’t know if I can put it into words, but these guys mean so much to me now. Before I didn’t really know any of these guys. We really didn’t know each other, but throwing your heart into it and you’re getting the same results from the other guys. Every single day you are working with guys. Every single day you build relationships that is unbelievable. For me it’s just about that and going for gold. That was a fun journey. Me and Coach talked about it, and I talked about it with all these guys. Three more games. You just count down the games. Every single day you stay ready. Being kind of the young old guy on this team, I’m going into my fourth year, but I am still a young guy on this team. I was trying to keep everybody ready as much as possible and whatever they needed whether it was advice, getting a rebound, getting a steal or encouraging anyone I was willing to do.
Does playing with this group of guys prepare you for your upcoming season with the Cavaliers?
Going back to Cleveland everyone is going to have their assumptions of what’s going to happen I don’t think anyone really knows what’s going to happen until you guys see us play. For me, playing with this team, like I said, you have so many pieces you can go to. It’s easy for me to take a backseat when Steph Curry is hot or when James Harden is hot or A.D. is in the post and he’s killing it. It’s easy for me to do that. It’s not hard. I have a different role for the Cavaliers than playing for USA Basketball. These are guys that dreamt of playing. Guys I can throw it to. Anytime they can go get it, and I can stand in the corner and I have no problem doing that. Doing whatever is needed to win. Playing with the best in the world I feel like that’s where I want to be and that’s where I should be. Going back to Cleveland and having the same mindset. Just being myself and working extremely hard every single day and maintain my confidence level that has made me who I am and who I want to become. That sums it up.
Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets)
What does it mean to you to win this gold medal?
It’s a dream come true. It’s every player’s dream, and I am just fortunate to be a part of this team.
What can you take away from this experience?
Just every day with some of the best players in the world, you pick up things in practice, workouts and games. We just had a good time, and I took a lot away from it.
Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
Talk about how it feels to win the gold medal. Obviously, you’ve done this before, but what’s different this time?
I wouldn’t say anything is different. Uh, I’ll take that back. I will say, just being here, God is good, man. Just having the opportunity to come over here, and being on another great team and playing for the great staff they have with Coach K and everyone, it’s an honor and I’m just trying to take it all in right now. This can be a great start for me for the upcoming season, but tonight I’m just trying to take all this in and celebrate a little bit.
How about tonight’s game? It seemed like it was the best you guys have played the entire tournament.
I think that’s the first that we jumped on a team in the first half. Kyrie and James did a great job of making sure they came out aggressive. Their shots were really falling tonight, and it kind of trickled down where everyone had the same feeling, everyone had the same rhythm they had, and it made it a very easy game.
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
How does it feel to win the FIBA World Cup?
It feels great. Words can’t describe it. I can’t wait to celebrate tonight and to go home and celebrate. I’m so excited especially on the world stage. Next up is an Olympic gold medal and an NBA Championship. If I get all three of those, you can’t get any better than that.
On the USA Shooting:
Coach said it was going to be our best game and he was right. I’m happy we proved him right. We shot the ball unbelievably, we shared the ball well and we played great team defense. We played with all our heart, we played for our country, and it was amazing. I can’t describe it.