USA Basketball Men’s National Team Post-Practice Quotes
• Las Vegas, Nevada
USA managing director Jerry Colangelo
On the value of the USA Select Team to the USA National Team program:
It stars with the junior teams. When you look at the success we’ve had with the 16-, 17-, 18-year-olds, the gold medals that have been won, the pipeline has been full. The next step, the logical step is the USA Select Team. So, it’s kind of interesting when you look at the young players and then the vets, it’s a little bit like men and boys. So, this is a good indoctrination for them, for the select team players. As they were told a couple nights ago, ‘this is the step for you. Take advantage of this opportunity.’ Because from this group will be future Olympians and future World Cup team players.
On his relationship with USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski:
We use the expression, ‘we’ve been joined at the hip’ since 2005. And that’s really true. Our relationship goes back further than that, but not as intimate as it became in ’05. He’s a terrific guy. He’s been an incredible part of the success in what we’ve created in terms of our culture, and he’s not going away. When he’s finished in Rio, hopefully with another gold medal, my intention always was to have him stay involved with USA Basketball. My commitment is through the next quad and I want him to be part of it. Gregg Popovich of course is the next coach, but at my age I need an assistant. So coach K is going to be that guy.
What does Carmelo Anthony’s commitment mean to USA Basketball?
It’s ironic that he was the first player I spoke to back in ’05 to get a commitment from him. And he’s the last man standing. He’s back. For him to be in a position for him to win another gold medal is a great story in itself. We’re happy to have his leadership. We’re happy to have his scoring ability. He’s very successful in international play. He’s been a big part of our success.
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
Can you talk about having ‘Melo and what he’s meant to USA Basketball?
Well, he’s going to be the leader of this team along with KD. This will be his fourth Olympics. That level of experience – and he’s still a great player. And, commitment, it’s a god-send, really. He’ll be one of the key factors for us in attempting to win the gold medal.
What’s the key challenge with you bringing in all this talent?
I’m not sure it’s a challenge. It’s an opportunity to bring a lot of talented guys who want to do well and play for their country to find a chemistry. And today was a really good day for us. We got a lot done today, and the guys love one another. They are very unselfish. We really got a lot done today. This has been a great two days for us.
Klay came through from the Select Team and is now a part of the Olympic Team – is that the model USA Basketball wants?
I think we have at least eight guys of the 12 guys have been on our Select Team, and so just like these guys – these 24 guys who are here – some of them will be on a World Cup Team, some will be on an Olympic Team in the future, and what that means is – we have a program, a good culture, where the older guys teach the younger guys. And the younger guys have paid their dues. Kevin Durant was a Select Team member. Klay, Kyrie, DeMarcus – these guys were Select Team members. Now they’re hopefully Olympic gold medal winners.
How have you seen Klay grow through the years?
Klay is really one of the great, complete players on this planet, in that he’s not only a great offensive player – he’s more than a shooter. He’s an outstanding offensive player who loves to play defense and never really seems to get tired. He has a great motor. I loved him in the World Cup and I know I’m going to love him in Rio.
Can you talk about DeAndre Jordan being a big boost to this team?
DeAndre is incredibly unique. One, he’s a great teammate. 7-feet tall. Keeps balls alive on the offensive end. He’s a willing screener. Everybody loves playing with him. And he’s a heck of an athlete. Not just going up and down, he’s a heck of an athlete going sideways. His defense of a ball screen is unbelievably important. He reminds me a little bit of how Chris Bosh defended the ball screen in Beijing where he really comes out and he’s so athletic and can move his feet well.
Is there something that you think Coach Pop can get out of this – actually being around the team before he coaches the team?
For Pop to be here – and it’s not just being here – he’s at every meeting, at night we eat and talk. First of all, his input on NBA players, for me, is incredible. Also, asking him what does he think about what we’re doing – he sees what we’re doing and it’s called succession. The fact that we’re both military guys – I have the unit right now. He’s going to take command of the unit. And we both want the unit to do well. We understand that. We’ve been good friends but this has been great for me, and I think for him, for us to bond even more.
You had Kyrie Irving but for only one year at Duke. How has having him with USA Basketball helped your guys’ relationship to grow?
For me and Kyrie, it’s been amazing, because we didn’t have a chance to win a championship because he only played 11 games. We had a chance but he wasn’t 100 percent. When we won in Madrid two years ago, that was an incredible moment – for us just playing for the U.S. and for us just to be together. And to have this opportunity again, we have a great relationship. I’ve enjoyed it immensely as hopefully he has.
Harrison Barnes (Dallas Mavericks)
On playing for Coach K:
He hasn’t cracked too many Duke or Carolina jokes. He has a lot of experience winning gold medals. It’s kind of special that this is his last one. We are going to try and finish it off right for him.
On playing now for the Dallas Mavericks:
When I walked in and saw my name- Harrison Barnes, Dallas Mavericks- on the USA Basketball manifest, that’s when it first started to sink in.
On competing against and with Kyrie Irving since they were teenagers:
This is the perfect environment for us. When you talk about USA and playing for the name across our chest, it puts the regular season tension aside. Whether you are playing for the Dallas Mavericks or the Cavs, all that stuff becomes irrelevant compared to representing your country and going for the gold medal.
Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
On the teams’ strong execution in today’s practice
It’s us getting comfortable. We are veterans and we have played the game at the highest level and we know how to adapt. Once you’ve seen someone after one day, you know what they bring. Everyone felt more comfortable today.
On returning to USA Basketball- what does that mean to you?
To be honest, I just want to hang with the fellas. I just want to hang with a group of guys that do the same thing I do, that love the same thing that I love and are passionate about it. It’s that mutual respect. I just want to hang out with them. Basketball will always be there for me. That’s a given. But I’m looking for something else. It’s been a blast even though it’s been only three days so far.
On being at peace with his decision to play at Golden State and moving forward with USA Basketball:
It’s still a little fresh but being able to focus on this makes it a little easier to get past it. I’m just trying to move on from it and just worry about the game of basketball. I enjoy working; I enjoy getting better and I enjoy playing. That’s what I need to focus on.
Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
Are you excited about playing in Rio?
I’m very excited. Just to have the opportunity to play with this team, with the group of guys that we have, it’s an incredible opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.
What is your goal for Rio?
The gold has been the gold, it’s to win the gold medal and we expect nothing less.
How excited are you about facing other countries?
Very excited. Everybody has their different feel to the game, they play their different style, but I’m excited to compete. The U.S. has been dominating as of late and we want to try to continue that.
On representing the United States in the Olympic Games:
It’s an incredible honor. It’s something that you don’t take for granted. You’re working hard your whole life for this and to have the opportunity is special.
On the difference in international play:
It’s a big difference. Internationally they try to slow the game down a little bit more. Things are a little bit more fundamental than the NBA because guys aren’t as athletic. So, they think the game a little bit more. Everything’s a little more sound. Just about everyone on their teams can shoot. I think those are some of the biggest differences.
DerMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors)
How has the USA Basketball experience been so far and is this something you’ve dreamed about since you were a little kid?
I feel great. Honored. It’s a blessing to be on this team with all these great athletes – the best players in the world. It’s still shell-shocking to me to look down on my chest and see “USA.” I understand that I play for my country – it’s not (just) basketball.
Is it difficult to manage the amount of talent all on this one team?
It’s not difficult. We all understand that we’re playing for something that’s bigger than all of us. If we accomplish something as a team, that’s going to go down in history and that’s what this is all about.
What are you doing (as a team) to prepare for Rio?
Every single day, gain camaraderie. Togetherness. Continue to build until we’re up on that podium holding that gold medal.
How different is it to play for the USA team as opposed to your regular (NBA) team?
It’s an experience because all the best players in the NBA – 12 guys – they come together as one to win a gold medal.
Paul George (Indiana Pacers)
Was there ever any doubt in your mind that you wanted to be part of this again?
No, there was no doubt. Winning the gold medal is a lot bigger than any other concerns. It’s been a childhood dream so for myself, it’s just fulfilling it.
Do you try to block out what happened in 2014 as far as the injury?
There is no thought on it. It happened, it’s over with and I’m moving forward. It’s another opportunity for me and I’m just happy to represent my country.
Was it say about the USAB infrastructure that so much talent is here on the Olympic and Select teams?
Coach K has really created something great here. He’s created a winning environment … he’s created an environment to get better. He’s the reason guys want to come here and get better. It’s bigger than just coming here and playing basketball. We’re actually learning from one another. We’re creating a chemistry with one another. Again, it’s bigger than what we are doing on the court. A lot of this stuff really translates off the court as well. It’s just a great environment to be in.
What was the decision to come back?
I did it for the inner Paul George, the kid Paul George who always dreamed of winning a gold medal. I wasn’t worried about no injuries. I wasn’t worried about getting back on the court and how would I fare out there. It’s about fulfilling that childhood dream and representing that country.
How has your injury informed you on how to approach practice right now?
I’m going all out. Injuries are part of the game. It just sucks it was a freak accident but injuries are part of the game. I can easily get injured during a practice with my team in Indiana. It’s against being here. It’s about getting better and it’s about playing alongside the best players in this league.
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
On Coach K’s comment that Klay is one of the greatest two-way players in the world:
Oh wow. That means a lot. Coming from Coach K’s words who has seen so much basketball means a lot. He’s a joy to play for especially how prideful he is coaching the USA. He doesn’t have to do this. But he wants to and his pride and will trickles down to everybody on this team.
On the first two days of practice:
It’s a lot of fun. It’s fun beating up on the Select team because I was in that position a few years ago. The 2012 Olympic team would beat the crap out of us every day. It’s fun being on the Olympic team now and doing it to them. It feels good to play basketball again.
On his decision to ultimately play for USA Basketball:
Mentally and physically it was a long season. Obviously the way it ended was very taxing. You take a couple weeks off and you get itching to get back on the court. This is too great of an opportunity to pass up. I’ve always dreamed of playing in the Olympics. I’d rather do it when I’m 26 instead of 30. I’m fresh, I’m young and just having a lot of fun.
On his experience of competing against the Olympic team four years ago as a USA Select Team player:
It’s fun playing with Melo and KD because they were on that team. They were just as physical then as they are now. I’ll forever remember those times playing against that Olympic team. They were so good and so deep. When I went back to training camp, I felt I had a head start.
On playing with Kevin Durant:
For a guy who has had so much success in his career and is so young, he doesn’t walk around like he’s better than anyone else. That is what makes him so likeable and so easy to play with. It’s like getting a head start on our relationship which is great for me, Draymond and him. It still shocks me that he’s on our team. It’s unbelievable. I can’t wait to play with him Friday night. It’s going to be a great preview of what is to come.