Additional Quotes: 2016 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team Announced
The 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team was announced on Monday, June 27 in New York. Here are quotes from the 12 selected players as well as U.S. head coach Mike Krzyzewski and USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo from Monday’s announcement.
USA Managing Director Jerry Colangelo
Your thoughts on the event today? What was your favorite part of it?
My favorite part of this whole program today was the expressions on the faces of the kids, the excitement, the enthusiasm of them having a chance to see, meet and greet people that they admire as athletes, NBA players and the best players in the world. That gave me a big thrill.
What about the makeup of the team?
I couldn’t be more pleased with what we have in the way of a team. This is a very solid, strong team, athletic. We have size, shooting, great defense and a great bunch of guys, full of character.
Sounds like you’re ready to start practice now?
Yeah, we have to wait a couple of weeks before we can do that, but I would agree with you. I think the other thing that’s happened here with us is that this was a great opportunity in a day, day and a half where our players start the bonding that usually takes place when you’re bringing a group of guys together. Make no mistake about it, we’re building a new team for USA Basketball here, because there are a number of players who are here for the first time. But it’s a great blend of experience and youth and, again, I think the overriding thing I see with this group is there’s a lot of character. I think they all get along extremely well, so it should be a tight group.
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
Your thoughts on the event? It was pretty cool with the kids today. What was your favorite part?
When they raised the wall and to see the reaction of all the kids, including the kids who are playing on our team, because I think it brought out the kid in them, to see how those kids reacted. I’m not sure it could have been better.
It was awesome.
Yeah, just watching it and the excitement. It helped our team feel even deeper the responsibility and the honor of playing for our country.
Was that the goal doing an event like this to try to help bring that on?
We want our country to be proud of us, and that was what we tried to do 11 years ago when Jerry [Colangelo] took over. It’s worked, and you don’t do that without coming to be with the public. So these guys have done that. I’m anxious to coach them. I’m really anxious to coach them.
One of the biggest challenges with this team as opposed to the other team?
It’s the same, and that’s adapting. How quickly will we adapt to one another, because you only have a limited amount of time. We have six guys who have never played for our staff, so we need the help of the six guys who have and the leadership. We’re a very versatile team. I’m anxious to see how we all mesh.
As usual you sound excited?
We should be excited. In order to represent your country, if you’re not excited about representing your country, then you’re a sad case. So, no, it’s an honor and it’s exciting. Looking forward to being in Vegas and getting going.
Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
Is part of you just thinking about resting your body for the regular season?
The way I look at it, I was training anyway, you know what I mean? So why not train with the best?
What about the team? A lot of new faces you haven’t played with in the Olympics.
It feels good. As far as the talent goes and the level of play, I’m pretty sure that’s still going to be the same. This is a great group of guys, and they’re hungry. They want to play.
We talked to you this time last year about how you and LeBron could be the first guys to do it four times.
Well, he’s celebrating something else. The Finals probably took a lot out of him. But I know for me, my situation’s a little different. This is something I look at as a legacy thing as well. For me to be able to go have a chance to win three gold medals and play in four Olympics, just to represent the country, I feel good doing that.
You said another reason for taking part in your fourth Olympics was because you wanted to feel what success was like again. Why was that important for you?
As competitors, you want to get that edge back. I want to feel what that’s like. I want to be back out there. I want to be playing at a high level. I want to be playing with guys that I know are playing at a high level. I want to win.
Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors)
Does it mean anything different trying to get a gold medal after coming up short in The Finals? How much, if any more motivation -- you already had enough motivation to play for your country on a personal level. Does it mean anything to you?
No, it definitely does. Just this whole experience will be great because it allows you to focus on something that wasn’t the pain of losing in The Finals, and you want to bring some hardware home with you.
And Kyrie’s on your team?
Yeah, he had some jokes when I first saw him. So we got past all that. It will be fun to play on Team USA.
Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls)
I just want to play ball and get a chance to represent my country and potentially get the gold medal and play with this great group of guys. That’s what’s so awesome about USA Basketball.
Was it a difficult decision at all?
Not at all. Not in a million years would I tell I wouldn’t represent my country. It was a no-brainer.
You haven’t been a part of a World Championship or anything like that, but how do you feel?
I think everybody has that one goal and that’s to win. All the roles that we have on our respective NBA teams, put all that to the side and whatever role you have to do to win here, that’s what you’ve got to buy into. I’m excited about that.
DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
What's the most exciting thing about being part of this team?
Getting to wear USA across your chest. That’s probably one of the biggest things ever. I get to represent my whole entire country. I’m grateful for that opportunity and I’ll take advantage of it.
What about the experience as a whole?
It’s a huge honor. This has been a goal of mine for a while. It’s always an exciting and great feeling to be able to wear USA across my chest. I’m grateful for the opportunity and plan on taking advantage of it, being around some of the top talent in the league. I feel like every player always comes back better [from the Olympics]. It’s a great environment, great learning environment. You get to play for a legendary coach. So just being around it just increases everybody’s abilities and you just come back a better player.
DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors)
How much of an honor is it to represent your country at the Olympics?
Words cannot put it into context because to sit here with the USA on our chest, 12 of the best basketball players in the world, to go out there and compete for our whole country that’s going to be watching us, the whole world is going to be watching us, it’s amazing.
Has it hit you yet?
Not really. No, I think it’s really going to hit me hard once we get this thing wrapped up and going and playing. When you start hearing it from the outside world, you’re watching it out there, and that’s when it will really kick in.
What do you think are the biggest strengths of this team?
The versatility, being able to play small, being able to play big, being able to have so many guys out here who can create for other guys, create their own shots, get to the basket. We’ve got a big man in DeMarcus [Cousins] who is the most dominant big man in the NBA. I feel like he’s the most dominant player in the world coming into this once we go over there and get started. We’ve got so many angles.
Are there any teammates on this team that you're looking forward to playing with?
I have a great relationship with all the guys. It’s just great to come together again for something so big that’s going to be a part of us for a lifetime.
Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
How does this Olympics compare to the ones you’ve been in before?
I don’t really do comparisons. Different players, different teams. Just appreciate those teams for what they’ve done. We’re not trying to be 2012 or '08 or the Dream Team or any team between that. We’re just trying to be us and come back with the gold.
The expectation in Rio is for the USA to bring back gold. What is your personal expectation for Rio?
To bring back gold. Anything less than that, we don’t want it. Our mentality has always been like that. We still have to put the work in. We can’t go over there and expect to win. We have to put the work in and everybody is excited for it.
What do you think are the strong parts of the Olympic team as comprised?
Just the different skill sets that we have and how they come together uniquely. We’ve got shooters. We’ve got guys that can do the dirty work. We’ve got scorers. We’ve got great passers. So I’m kind of anxious to see how coach puts it all together. I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s a great experience, and I’m looking forward to it all.
How much are you looking forward to doing this again? You had such a great tournament a couple years ago. In 2010, you had a hell of a tournament too. Such a natural at this level, it seems like.
When you’re playing with the best players in the world, it makes it easy. Just going out there and playing my game. They take all the pressure off of me. I just try to be aggressive and stick to what I do. Hopefully, it helps the team. The last two times it’s helped, so I’ve just got to stick to what I do.
Paul George (Indiana Pacers)
How much better can you get from playing with guys at this level?
I think guys are so used to being the guy on their team and being dominant to where now you learn how to figure out the game without the ball. You figure out how to move. You figure out how to space the floor. You figure out how to be effective while not being the main guy. I think that’s what everyone brings to their game, is learning how to play off the ball.
Just to get to wear the uniform -- you were supposed to do this two years ago, obviously -- does it set in at all? Is there anything special at this moment?
No, not yet. I think the National Anthem before the first game is probably when it will sink in that this is the moment I’ve dreamed of and was looking forward to as a kid.
Draymon Green (Golden State Warriors)
What do you think about this team? You play against these guys all the time.
I’m excited about it. I think it’s a great group of guys, very talented group of guys. I think we’re going to mesh well together. Obviously, we played against each other all year. But to come together for one common goal to represent our country well, I’m excited about that.
How do you think your skills work on the international level? You haven’t played at all with these guys, at least at this level. What kind of stuff can you do to help this team?
I just plan on being me, playing my game, bringing whatever I can to this team. I think a lot of international teams use the kind of stretch four, so I think that suits me well. I’m definitely looking forward to making the transition.
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Give us your thoughts on playing for USA Basketball?
It’s been a dream of mine for a long time. I want to be a part of something bigger than myself again, other than my own team.
Not a whole lot of guys have the chance to do a double of an NBA title and a gold medal just a couple months later. I want to know what that would mean to you?
It would be amazing. But I understand the amount of work that it takes to win. Not just a championship, but the gold medal and playing with USA on your chest, it’s bigger than all of us.
DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers)
Can you talk about what it means to put on that jersey and represent your country?
It’s a great feeling. It’s an honor. Since we were kids, we’ve all dreamed of competing in the Olympics. With a chance to play with some of your peers who are the best basketball players on the planet, it’s a really good feeling.
Are you looking forward to it?
I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve never been to Brazil. I’ve never competed in the Olympics. So all these things will be new to me, exciting, and these are some memories that I’ll keep forever.
Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)
What is your take on this roster as far as how it’s going to win games?
Every which way -- defense, offense, high flying, up tempo, slow it down. We’ve got a little bit of everything. But that’s what the Olympics does. That’s why you have some of the best players in the world playing.
Not a bad year for Villanova guys.
Not a bad year for Villanova guys. Not a bad year at all. Able to get a National Championship and a chance to get the gold medal. Not a bad year at all.
How much of an honor is it to represent the USA?
Words can’t explain it. It’s the biggest honor you can possibly get. It really is.
To put the Team USA jersey on and wearing your country on your body, how does that feel for you?
It’s a feeling you can’t explain. It’s one of the proudest things I’ve ever done in my life. I’m going to represent my country the best I can.
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
What does the selection mean to you after The Finals loss?
Even if I won the NBA title, I’d still want to pursue this. You have to appreciate it. You have to play with a free mind. That’s what I really want. [The Finals loss] is not going to hold me back from what I do with USA Basketball. This is an awesome experience.
What do you think about this roster?
I think it’s phenomenal, just the amount of athleticism. There are so many great wing players and big guys who can do so many things. We’ve got two great point guards in Kyle [Lowry] and Kyrie [Irving]. So I’m excited, man. It’s a testament to how deep the talent pool is for Team USA. It's unbelievable.