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2015 USA Basketball Showcase Additional Quotes

  • Date:
    Aug 13, 2015

Untitled Document

USA National Team Managing Director Jerry Colangelo and USA National Team Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski
General comments about the three-day USA National Team minicamp:

Colangelo: We couldn’t be more pleased with the results. We had a game plan to try to get some things done, keep the continuity going, this non-competitive summer. We had a great response from the players. I thought tonight’s game – we had a great crowd, which is very appreciative. I think the guys put on a nice show. We said it was going to be very similar to an All-Star game, and that’s what it was. And it could not have gone any better. We got a lot accomplished that Coach can talk about over these three days. It sets the tone going forward for next summer, and we’re excited about the game plan that we have in place for the selection of the team, and being here for training camp, and off we go to Rio.

Coach K: I just feel so good about these four days. They were tremendous. Tonight, I’d like to thank the people of Las Vegas for supporting this game, and how well they’ve supported USA Basketball for this decade, it’s been incredible, really. I thought our guys really responded tonight. They had a lot of effort, enthusiasm. They had fun. That’s part of it. They all want to be a part of USA Basketball. We have so many guys that could not play for a variety of reasons, but even those guys throughout the week were at practice or practices, even when they weren’t supposed to – they maybe did a little more shooting than maybe they were supposed to do, so everyone did kind of a little bit more than what they were supposed to do, and they all fit well under the USA umbrella. That ego that we want all of them to have and the honor that it is to be a part of it.

Colangelo: Tonight is a lot different than a year ago this time. We had to deal with the Paul George incident, and we’re thankful and grateful we didn’t have any problems or injuries. It was a great week in every respect.

Q: Did you tell the guys pregame to kind of take it easy?

Coach K: We told them when there was a breakway, not to challenge, but we were even saying that when it got close at the end, and Kenneth (Faried) did challenge. I think the alley-oop stuff is more a matter of conditioning and timing, and playing with one another, and who’s throwing the alley-oops. Kyrie (Irving) wasn’t throwing the alley-oops. Centers were throwing the alley-oops. We didn’t put in an offense, so don’t judge us by the offense. But, we hope a lot of our games next year, they would have the defense that was played tonight – I think we would score a lot of points, then.

Q: After what happened to Paul George last year, what did you say to some of the big guys like LeBron and Kevin Durant that kept them still a part of the program?

Colangelo: Their character. Their commitment. It was a tragedy in terms of what took place, but out of adversity, some good things happen. The fact that he’s just about back to normal is incredible, and we’re hopeful that he has a big year, and you know – the players responded. We asked 34 players to show up, and they did. That says it all right there. So, when you have that kind of a commitment, you have a chance to be successful. We’re very happy about that.

Q: During the telecast, you talked about a 12-man roster. Can you talk about that?

Colangelo: Yes, we made a decision, our staff, that rather than having a mini-camp in the true sense of the word, and bringing 18 or 22 players here and then asking six or eight or 10 to go home, that just didn’t sit well with us. So, the more we thought about it, we went back to our game plan in ’08, when we actually announced our team before we started our camp. And, so, this coming June, at the conclusion of the NBA Playoffs and the Draft, we’re going to name our 12-man roster. We’re going to do that, and then break for almost two weeks, so that when we come to begin training camp, we have our 12. We will bring a whole bunch of select players, young players, because that will be the beginning of not only competition for the camp, but it’s the beginning of the next wave of players for the next quad, especially 19 and 20 for the World Cup and the Olympics.

Coach K: And if we wanted to change, we’ll change. In other words, if something occurred that we didn’t want to do that, it’s not the 10 Commandments. And, understand, too, that we select 12 to play, but everyone is still in the pool of players. No one is not selected for USA Basketball. The pool will be probably given out in mid-season sometime.

Colangelo: 24, 25, 28 players – we’re not sure yet.

Q: Can you talk about some of the last minute roster additions for the scrimmage tonight? Did some players make a decision to not play?

Coach K: Yea, tonight, a number of the guys have not been cleared fully to play. So, instead of having seven guys per team, where you say, okay, let’s have somebody get injured today, we asked four players to come in. They’re really good players. They were great. It shows the cooperation that these guys will give you, and it turned out real well. But, we’re always very concerned about the length of practice and the different positions that we put our players in, because we don’t want to overwork them. You know, they play 100 games during the year, and that’s another reason for not having the minicamp – you cut down the number of days. If we’re able to select the way we think we’ll be able to select, that will be great. It shortens that time commitment that these guys have to give.

Colangelo: I believe when we open camp here next summer, based on what we assume is going to take place by that game plan, we’ll be together for about 35 days once camp begins. And we get through camp, we get through five exhibition games, getting prepared for Rio, and then our time in Rio – that’s a long time. So, by cutting those days on the front end, that’s very helpful to the players and their families.

Q: Can you talk about the culture that has been created around USA Basketball during your guys’ tenure?

Coach K: Because the culture has been established. And it’s a good one. And a lot of people talk about what Jerry has done, and the coaching staff, but really, the primary reason we have a great culture is because we have great guys. And they’ve been committed. If the three guys who have won two gold medals – Chris, Carmelo and LeBron – are able to play, and want to play next year, that shows a commitment throughout most of their basketball life. A guy, if he plays 12 to 15 years in the league, that’s a good career. Well, these guys have done that for USA Basketball. Durant, Westbrook and Curry – these guys have played in multiple events and won multiple gold medals. They come back and help to establish that culture. Then, what I have to do at Duke now – we have guys who are one-and-done, which is great, they’re good enough and they accomplish a lot. It used to be where Battier and all these guys would teach the younger guys. Well, that’s what it is. That’s what’s going on here. We don’t have guys who are in for once and then are gone. We have guys who are in it over and over again, and that’s the best. And that’s what other countries have and that continuity is really important for us to compete at the highest level and have an opportunity to beat them.

Colangelo: The camaraderie that has grown among the players, that’s an amazing thing. Having those relationships, during the offseason, in our environment, is a real draw. And another thing that’s happened – if you would have tracked – go back and look at the players that were on our roster in ’08, and ’10 and ’12 and ’14 in the different competitions, they all were better players for the experience, and they all went back and had really good seasons. And the players are aware of that. They had a head start, and a jump start on the rest of their team because they were in a good place. So, because of that environment, because of all those positives, it’s another thing that just attracts them. They know it’s good.

Q: Guys that are a part of the program versus guys that are new and want a shot at it?

Coach K: You just try to pick the best team. It’s equity as long as the talent, the guys that have equity, continues to be at that level, the newness of other very talented players. A really important thing is in a short period of time, how can you become a really close team? How can you build trusting relationships? If you have a number of guys that you have already done that with, it helps immensely. Your offense, defense, handling of any difficulties in travel and meals or whatever, it takes care of a lot of problems. It will be balanced. There’s always room. In ’08 and ’10, we won. And then London was a combination of those two teams. The addition of Anthony Davis and James Harden. We had a lot of new guys in Madrid, although we had some of the older guys, too, with Curry and Harden being leaders, and Anthony Davis. There’ll always be kind of that mix, I think.

Colangelo: I’ll make the statement, and you can play with it if you wish – but we’ve had a lot of great players. A lot of really good young players come into the system, so, if everyone stays healthy, Godwilling there aren’t any injuries, but something always happens it seems in an NBA season. But if our guys were to stay healthy, because we’re so deep and so talented, this will be the best team we ever put together, potentially. That all has to come together, but the talent pool is that strong right now going forward. And that’s exciting, because we’re going to have a very special team.

Q: It’s got to be hard to go from 34 to 20 and then excruciating to go from 20 to 12.

Colangelo: Tell us about it.

Q: (Laughter) What’s the process like?

Coach K: Three things. Who’s injured, contractual problems, and so many times, there are personal issues that can take place. We’ll play that process much later. It’s great that we have the ability to look at that many outstanding players that are committed to representing their country. That’s fantastic.

Colangelo: When we get down to it, and it happens every year in each competition, we’ve had to make a choice, a last choice. It is really tough. You don’t know what we go through in our room before we have to tell a player. I mean, that’s a killer. It always has been and it always will be. If we’re able to do what we’ve outlined here, have your team selected before that all happens, that eliminates a lot of things. It really does.

Q: With his (NBA) contract up again after next season, is it possible and have you talked about if maybe LeBron, with USA Basketball, will ride off into the sunset?

Coach K: We haven’t. I’m totally supportive of whatever he wants to do. We’re talking about a guy who’s been to three Olympics. We’d love to have him in a fourth. And we’d really love to have him win his third gold medal. But, whatever he decides, people who have served, I’m great with. The fact that they served for such a long period of time, whenever the time comes for LeBron to ride off into the sunset, I’m sure he will do it with someone other than me, someone who will have had a bigger impact on his career than me.

Q: Does Paul George get some extra consideration to make the roster based on what he went through?

Coach K: We’re going to look at everybody, and certainly Paul, when I talked to him – he was here for the one night and took part in our meetings, he said, “Coach, I’m 100 percent, they just want to keep me out, I understand, that, and I just got to get my reps, my timing” and if he does, he was one of the best players in the NBA when the injury occurred, so he will be prominent and a prime candidate.

Q: Will guys like Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant have the opportunity to play next year?

Colangelo: There has been a lot said recently in the media about Kobe. In response to a question about him, I said it would be a great story if he did, and so, he also mentioned to me in a private conversation that if he had his druthers, he’d love to ride off into the sunset playing one more time and winning a gold medal, and that would be the end. But, he was very quick to say, “But I don’t want a spot. I need to earn the spot. I need to be capable of playing at that level to be considered.” And I said, “You’ve got that, that’s always there for you, Kobe.” There’s a guy who’s made great contributions to the game, again, one of the great players of all time, and he helped us win a gold medal in Beijing, I mean trust me – he really did. He’s entitled to an opportunity. I have always said you never shut the door entirely on anyone. Why? To prove what? Was I disappointed Derrick wasn’t here, sure, because we want the best for him. We want him to get back to the level where he once was. So, let’s just see how things go in the future. 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey
(USA Basketball and the Department of Defense hosted a Leadership Seminar on Aug. 13 at Nellis Air Force Base that also featured USA Basketball chair and men’s National Team managing director Jerry Colangelo and USA National Team head coach Mike Krzyzewski, as part of USA Basketball’s Hoops For Troops and the Department of Defense’s Commitment to Service initiatives. Following the seminar, General Dempsey talked about USA Basketball’s Hoops For Troops program.)

It goes back to about 2012 when coach and I talked about what would really make a difference in our Olympic basketball team, is the same thing that would make a difference for our armed forces, which is that we emphasize both competence, the ability in our case to wage a war and in the case of basketball to win gold medals, but also that we manage to connect to American people. And who better connects, by the way, than these incredible NBA athletes? So, the idea was the best athletes in the world partnered with the best military in the world, both to win, but also to show that you can win in a way that demonstrates character and that builds respect for USA Basketball and for the armed forces around the world. And so, it was a marriage I thought that was made in heaven, and it’s what I hope that continues into the future.

Aaron Afflalo (New York Knicks/UCLA)
Take us through how you ended up out here tonight:
Yesterday (I got the call). I guess a few guys had been unable to play, and they asked me if I was in town and would want to play. I told them of course.

Was it shocking to you to get the call?
It was definitely unexpected, definitely unexpected. But I love to play the game, and it’s a one-day thing. They didn’t ask too much of me to come out here and give two hours of my time. So, to run up and down, have some fun, I enjoyed it. It was a good experience.

On his performance:
I kind of had a serious mind-set to start with, then once I saw the energy, that it was more of a free-form (game), more for the fans, it was okay.

On Victor Oladipo’s performance:
Victor did good. I was happy for him, he continues to work hard, and hopefully he continues to grow.

Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors/North Carolina)
On the game:
It was good to get out here. I think after a couple of days, everyone wanted to get to the game. We tried to keep it light. We wanted to keep everyone safe but put on a good show, too.

It looked like you were having fun out there:
Yeah, we had a good time. We tried to, like I said, keep it light, put on a show and I think everyone enjoyed themselves.

Is there any message that Jerry Colangelo and Coach K have conveyed to your team that you can share with us?
Just that playing for USA Basketball is the gold standard. We’ve won four gold medals in a row, and we want to keep that same level of intensity in our work in our practices and obviously in games, we want to display the same thing.

On Hoops for Troops:
It was really powerful to hear General Dempsey speak today to the group, interact with those guys a little bit throughout the course of the week and really just show those guys appreciation for what they do for us.

Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards/Florida)
On the game:
The game was fun. The game was energetic. I think the atmosphere was great. Guys were smart, guys played well, and it was fun.

What did you get out of this minicamp?
A family, just the bond of knowing how guys are committed and how we all take time out of our busy schedules to come together and focus on being a part of one team. The biggest thing for me is just getting better. All of these guys are competitive, and there are 34 guys. It’s hard to pick 12 guys out of that. You could pick any 12, and I’m pretty sure everybody would be able to come together as one and win the gold medal. So, just having this opportunity is a blessing, and I’m honored to be here.

Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons/Connecticut)
Wrap up the training camp:
This training camp was great. We got the chance to come back and rekindle the fire that we had from last year, winning the gold medal. Being out here with the guys again, getting the chance to work out with them, get up and down, laugh and kind of celebrate the win that we had last year, it was a good time for me. 

On tonight’s game:
Tonight was fun, really fun. I got the chance to run up and down a little bit and really show off the hard work I put in this summer. Everybody out there was having fun. We had Kenneth Faried shooting 3s, so that’s always fun to watch. Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams were going at it, too. And everybody loves the Blake Griffin dunks. So, it was just a lot of great things going on, and we put on a great show for the fans.

Michael Carter-Williams (Milwaukee Bucks/Syracuse)
On the game:
It was a great game, both teams going back and forth. It is always nice when it gets competitive, and we were just out there having a good time.

You and Victor Oladipo were really going at it:
We always go at it. He might have edged me today. He got me, but it’s all good. We’ve been going at it since I was at Syracuse and he was at Indiana.

On playing in front of a home crowd in Las Vegas:
It was great. I was just so thankful to be here, honestly. To put on a USA jersey, to play in front of the fans and just to compete is a blessing.

Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets/Morehead State)
Was it hard to think about not getting hurt out there?
You can’t think about it. You play basketball. That’s what we’re paid to do. That’s what we love to do, and that’s what the fans paid to see us do, so we just went out there and had fun.

What do you take away from a smaller camp like this?
It wasn’t really a smaller camp. Guys were there, but (in) the game, I guess the stardom wasn’t there. We didn’t have everybody for the game. But, guys were at the camp. We were going hard, we were competing, not against each other, but we were competing, period. And, we were having fun.

What about the camaraderie with this group in getting ready for next summer?
I’m excited. Everybody’s excited. The team, we’re ready and focused to go out there and win the gold medal. You could tell by the guys who came in, LeBron (James), KD (Kevin Durant), Carmelo (Anthony), Chris Paul, the guys who came in, that’s who won gold.

(Question inaudible)
These guys really want to win a gold medal and represent in the most respectful way. We don’t want to go out there and have everybody saying, ‘Oh, they’re sending their B team. They’re sending their such-and-such.’ Like they said last year about us, and we won a gold medal. It’s going to be fun to see how things pan out and to see who’s going to be picked for the 12-man roster.

On tonight’s game:
It was fun. It was fun and exciting. 

Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers/Oklahoma)
On the game:
It’s fun, just a lot of fun. Just to be out here, put on the USA jersey and have fun with the guys and try to put on a show for the fans.

What did you get out of this week?
It’s just good to get everybody together, really, and get to see all the guys, see all the coaches and just show that this means something to us and that we enjoyed being here.

On playing in front of the crowd at Thomas & Mack:
It’s been a while, since summer league. It’s always fun playing here. Good crowd, a lot of energy, so we enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun.

Victor Oladipo (Orlando Magic/Indiana)
How was tonight?
I had a lot of fun. It was a great experience to go out there and play with such great players, have a good time and give the fans something to watch.

What did you learn?
USA Basketball is much bigger than basketball. It’s a community. It’s a family. It’s a tradition. It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of it and represent your country.

On his interaction with Floyd Mayweather during the game:
I went to watch Floyd the other day work out. Me and him were talking, and he actually is just a sports fan, and he has seen a lot of my games and he has watched me since I was in college. He’s a great athlete. He is one of the greatest athletes in the world, if not the greatest. So, we just grew a little friendship out of that. He told me he was coming to the game today, and when I first got out there he was just egging me on and getting me going and stuff, and it worked. It’s pretty cool to have him sitting (courtside) at such an event like this. It gives us players satisfaction knowing that he is a sports fan, and we are a fan of his, too.

What is next for you?
Get better. It’s not over. Still got a lot of room to improve, a lot of things I still need to work on. It’s a long way, a couple of months before the season starts, so it’s time to dig down and get ready.

How gratifying is it to have this experience here with USA Basketball?
It’s an honor and a blessing to be a part of this, and hopefully I get the honor of representing my country in the future. And if I do, I’m looking forward to that. But, this was a great experience. I’m just getting used to the surroundings, getting used to everybody here, so I’m looking forward to it.

Elfrid Payton (Orlando Magic/Louisiana)
How did this game come about for you?
I was working out at school, and I got a phone call from my agent saying that there’s a chance I could probably get called up. Then it became official that I could come. So, we just talked about it. It seemed like a good idea, so I drove home and left home at six in the morning. I got out here and played.

What does it mean for you to come out and play in this game?
It means a lot that they thought about me. It’s always an honor to play for your country, whether it be overseas or at home. I’m just thankful for the opportunity.

How much was it playing out there tonight?
It was a lot of fun playing with these guys, all these guys with all this talent. It’s always fun to play with guys like that. Being out there with Vic (Oladipo), that’s always fun, too. 

Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors/Washington State)
What is fun about these types of games?
Just being out here with some of the best players in the world, trying to put on a show for the fans, and it’s just always fun having USA across your chest. It’s a great sense of pride we all play with when that is the case.

Can you talk about your through-the-legs assist?
I knew DeMar (DeRozan) wasn’t really going to contest, so I was going to try and throw it through his legs. I wish I would have thrown a better lob; maybe that would have made top 10. That was a fun time, though.

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