USA Basketball Men’s National Team Post-Practice Quotes
• Houston, Texas
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
On coaching the National Team:
It’s been an honor. I think coaching the national team from any country is the ultimate honor that any coach can have. I don’t look at this as my last time, because then you’re not in the moment, and I think you have to be in the moment with this group. This group has been a good group, it’s still a developing one, but overall, it’s been an amazing honor to be the national coach for the United States team.
On international play and playing against Nigeria:
I think a lot of international play has reached the level of play in the NBA, because there are more than 120 international players in the NBA. So, it’s already reached that. The caliber of basketball played throughout the world is at the highest level it’s ever been and the last time we played Nigeria we hit so many threes it was a bizarre game. Carmelo Anthony went nuts, so that was a different game. Nigeria is well coached, they have a commitment, their players to their country, and we’ll have a good game against them tomorrow night. They’ll be good preparation for us before the Olympics.
On Carmelo Anthony:
He has spent his entire basketball life playing for the United States. I mean, this is his fourth Olympics. That’s unbelievably impressive. And, he’s been on four different teams, three Olympic teams and one world championship team. Two of them he’s won gold medals and been a significant part of it. In London, he was our second leading scorer even though he came off the bench. And so, Carmelo now is our leader and hopefully the experience that he has had will help. We have six new guys who have not played internationally before so hopefully his leadership will help us.
On the Team:
It’s not so much the philosophy of the team so much as the culture and the environment that you’re in playing for the United States, where you not only are proud and you’re going to play hard, but you feel who you’re representing. You’re representing your entire country, and it’s an honor. These guys have been very very good. They’ve worked hard. I think they understand that we get involved with our military a lot and with programs. There’s a TAPS program that helps kids whose mother or father was killed in action in Iraq or Afghanistan. And to have those kids in every one of the cities we’ve been in and to get to know them helps you get a better feel for who you’re representing and what you’re doing.
Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
On the last time he played against Nigeria:
The ball was going in, that’s the only thing I remember. A lot of threes man, but all the guys were just … once I hit that firs tone, guys knew at that point. Especially from early in the day, shoot around. Guys who can get hot like that, you can see that from a mile away, I didn’t see it but I’m guessing they saw it. Their goal was just to get me the ball, that’s what they were telling me.
On Friday’s game against Venezuela:
As a team, we shot the ball poorly last game and I don’t think we’ll shoot that badly again. But that’s the fun part, to know that you can know that you can shoot that bad, that poorly, but you can still come up victorious and win by thirty or forty points. That’s the luxury of being on a team like this.
On the last time he played against Nigeria:
After the game, all the guys were laughing and joking about scoring the ball, scoring that many points in 14 minutes, it was a lot of jokes after that game. A lot of scoring jokes.
On embracing the legacy of USA Basketball:
We try to keep that edge, you know, to know that if we do what we have to do, it’s a very high chance that we can win games by 30 or more points every game. But if we come out and be too complacent and think we just got it from the jump, it won’t happen. We still have some work to do and we look forward to that. We look forward to kind of this next week before opening up in Rio, just kind of tightening everything up and taking things a little bit serious now.
Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls)
What’s it like to play in Houston?
Close enough to home, it’s cool enough to play here. Just the same as when we play the Rockets here during the season. It’s always special because I’ve sat in these stands and watched one or two games when TMac was here, so it means a lot for me to be back on this floor.
What’s the difference in your role on this team and on the Bulls, playing with Wade next season?
Basketball is basketball. I think my role is definitely going to change from this team when I go back to the Bulls, actually. But just seeing the way that these guys put the ball in the basket, it’s kind of encouraging me to want to do the same. I mean, they’ve obviously made a name for themselves and you can tell why. But, I love playing with these guys and I enjoy going against them at the same time.”
What do you want to get out of this game against Nigeria?
Just to get better, like we’ve been trying to do each and every one of these games. Obviously, win. Winning is the most important thing, but just learn more about ourselves on both ends of the floor. Everybody else’s game, and just know the difference between the NBA game and the game that we’re playing now. There’s a huge difference between the two and that’s what we’ve gotta use these games as.
Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
Did life seem simpler then, to now when you’re a veteran in the league?
No, life is more simple now then it was before for me. Coming in at 18, didn’t know what to expect, didn’t know who I would be as a player or the path I’d take, but now everything seems kind of set for me, so it’s more simple now than it was back then.
What are you looking forward to in Houston and seeing Houston fans?
Well, just going to school here, just a couple hours away in Austin, so many people from Houston I’ve known, so many people from Houston just from being in Austin for those years I was there from my freshman year to staying there for the next three of four years after that, feeling like I knew so many people from this area, so great to be back in Texas and can’t wait to play in front of our home crowd, a USA crowd, before we get sent off to Rio, so it’s going to be exciting tomorrow.
What do you like about the team right now?
I like where we are. We obviously mixing lineups every half, coach has been switching it up every half trying to find the right mix and you know, it’s been great. Everybody play off each other and compliment each other well and we’re looking forward to starting up our real games up now, it’s been four games of exhibitions, and we’re looking forward to the real thing now.
In addition to trying to win each game, how much are you trying to live up to the legacy of USA Basketball?
You look at it, and nobody cares how you win as long as you win and I think that’s the name of the game for us. We just want to win. We played in 2012, we beat Lithuania by 5 points and it was a tight game all the way to the end. The gold medal game, we won by eight or nine points against Spain. So, it’s not like we’re blowing every team out, but if you win nobody really remembers the score. And that’s our whole thing, we want to win and we want to play well. We don’t want to play to score, but we just want to play a good brand of basketball and I think we’ve been doing that so far.
Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
On team chemistry:
It’s a great group of guys who really enjoy being around each other. We spend a lot of time together off the court, and it’s not by force, it’s just that guys want to be around each other, enjoy being around each other. It’s great vibes with this team.
I think that’s one of the strengths of this team – is the chemistry. Which is probably a bit weird. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be like that that fats, but it’s been incredible. Guys hit it off immediately. It’s been fun, a lot of fun.
During the regular season and playoffs, you know, guys go at each other. And with the relationships that we’re building here it’ll be even worse. Guys will go at each other even harder because you know once you get out of that game somebody is going to be talking junk to another guy and you don’t want to be the guy on the wrong end of the stick.
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
What’s it like being a part of USA Basketball?
This is a unique opportunity that you have to take full advantage of. Not only do I have a lot of good connections within USA Basketball, but the relationships I have that have grown over the last few years that have been very instrumental over the course of my career. Being in the pool of USA Basketball has bene nothing but great.
How has the team’s chemistry been?
I think we just have a great mix of guys here. We represent obviously our own organizations but a lot of us on this team have accomplished a lot in our short careers. The oldest guy is Melo and he’s just a great leader for us. But our relationships outside the game have just made playing out there on the floor a lot easier. I have a lot of respect for a lot of guys on this team. Seeing them in this environment is different, but I just try to learn as much as possible and really get to know these guys.
End of a great summer for you?
Yeah, yeah. Moving from one thing to the next, but it’s just going to be great going for Gold. Being a part of something bigger than myself. Being with great guys, and we have a great coaching staff and great players and just great people all the way around with USA Basketball. I mean, It’ll go by fast and I just really try to really really relish in every single moment and enjoy every moment with these guys.”
DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers)
On team chemistry:
We had a nice little sing along the other day, we had a nice little time. Melo probably won’t let Jimmy be the DJ anymore. I’m from Texas, you know what I’m saying? I don’t get listen to country as much as Jimmy does, but, it’s cool.”
More on team chemistry:
I caught up with my family last night, the team came over and we all had a nice little dinner and played some games and that stuff. We had some soul food, man. Kind of just hung out. And it was great. The thing about this team is, it’s guys who I probably would think, three months ago, that I would never invite to my house, you know what I mean? But it’s been great, man. These guys are like my brother now and we’ve only been together for two weeks, but it has been amazing. We’ll be bonded together for life after this.
On playing in the Olympics:
I think that’s huge. Just being able to represent our country, for me, it’s amazing, man. It’s bigger than the Clippers its bigger than the Warriors, the Knicks. It’s bigger than all of us and just to have an opportunity to compete for a Gold medal and represent our country the way that our country is now, it’s great.”
On the Showcase games:
It’s been amazing. The only place that I kind of felt a little uncomfortable was when we played up in San Francisco (laughs). But, we played in LA and that was great, in front of the Clipper fans, you know, fans I’ve been playing in front of for the last eight years, and now to be able to play in front of my friends and family before we go off to Rio is going to be great.”
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
Are you disappointed Steph isn’t on your team?
I understand why Steph isn’t here. The man has a family, he’s played two long seasons the last two years and he just needs some rest to give it his all next year. But, being here with, you know, Draymond and KD is awesome. It gives me almost a head start on me and KD’s relationship and knowing how to play with him and it’s going to get us the best thing about it is that it’s going to get us in great shape going into the next NBA season.”
Do you miss Steph out there?
I think we collectively make up for it. Obviously not having him you don’t get to see the beautiful basketball that Steph plays, but we got two other great point guards in Kyrie and Kyle who offer kind of a different brand of basketball. The whole world probably wanted to see Steph, but I understand why he had to miss, man. He’s played a lot of basketball these last two years.”
Do you have a sense of having to play up to the legacy of team USA?
Definitely. You don’t want to disappoint and since 06, I don’t think we’ve lost a game, I think coach K has only lost one or two games his whole coaching career with USA ball so, we really don’t want to be that team who lets him down or lets our country down and people expect a lot out of us as they should. We have so much talent on this team and if we just put individual stats aside and just go for winning, which we will, we’ll be successful.”
Do you have to live up to winning by 30 points every game like the Dream Team?
“I mean, I think the world has gotten better since the Dream Team, to be honest. You see it in the NBA game now, man. There’s so many. There’s international guys on every team. I think we had, like, upwards of 80 or 90 in the league alone. So, the world influence is a little bigger than it was then.”
You win by 30 or you win by 1, you just want to win.
No one is going to remember the score as long as we come away with the Gold.”