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2016 USA Men's National Team

Additional Quotes: USA Basketball Men’s National Team 80, Venezuela 45

  • Date:
    Jul 30, 2016

  • Chicago, Illinois / July 29, 2016

USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
Opening statement: 

"I want to thank all our fans here in Chicago and at the United Center. Great crowd, unbelievable atmosphere. It was a warm reception the entire time we’ve been here. They guys feel it, and we are very much appreciative. Tonight, I thought Venezuela played very hard against us. They did something that we need to be ready for, that is, they make you play defense for 20 seconds on every exchange. They are trying to take away more possessions, and trying to take time off the clock. It was that type of game. Obviously we didn't hit shots or complete plays as well as we could, but you have to give them credit for that. The way they tried to use the tempo of the game. They’re very smart and very well coached. I’m proud of my team. We played hard for 40 minutes. We’re playing defense right to the very end. That is what I am looking for. The fact that the ball wasn't going in, and they were playing good defense against us didn’t stop us from giving a really quality effort, especially on the boards and the defensive end."

On the differences in the international game:
"Well, I think our guys are just getting use to the basketball. It has a different feel. You can see it has a lot more panels on it. Our guys are taking a lot more shots, more free throws. When we get to Houston, there will be a lot more work; a lot more preparation."

On Venezuela losing Grieves Vásquez:
"That was a huge loss for the Venezuelan team. Greivis is their best player. He is a great pro and he was just a huge loss for them. I think they've done a great job pulling together without him."

On the welcome Coach Thibodeau got from the Chicago crowd:
"Well that's one thing about Chicago, Jimmy plays here, I'm from Chicago and the fans love their players and coaches. Tom brought great basketball when things were not going great for the Bulls. Injuries were a big part of it.  With Derrick (Rose), they could have been hanging another banner. Tom is the best as far as preparation and he is a team player. It was great that Chicago acknowledged him."

On Carmelo Anthony:
"This is his fourth Olympics. You learn a lot, he's helping these guys. He is amazingly vocal and good with these guys. They respond to him."

Is this team good enough to win:
"Yes. Two of the consistent parts of the game, we did great with tonight. You can play really good defense, and you can rebound every night. It is about effort. Our guys have given us that effort. There are games where you just don't shoot well. There’s an adjustment to the ball. We have too many outstanding players. More so than missing shots, we didn't finish well. We probably could have had 10 to 14 more points in the first half just by finishing. Sometimes it can affect those other two, but tonight it didn't. To be quite frank, I'm very pleased about tonight. We don't want to just hit 17 three-pointers, and not work hard. We had to work real hard tonight." 

Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
How is the team feeling after the game tonight?
“We’re just ready to get down there. We’re ready to go now, and start playing, and kind of get this thing going.”

Was the free-throw shooting subpar tonight? 
“We scored 60-something points tonight. Some of the best offensive players and some of the best scorers in the world. It wasn’t just me. It was everybody on the team. Offensively we didn’t shoot well, but any time we cannot shoot well like that and hold a team to 40-something points for a whole game, I’ll take that any day.”

How does your experience in international play help the other guys?
“We’re ready. We’ll be ready. I think everybody is focused. Everybody is on the same page. We’ve got a couple of days to still tighten some things up. We’re going to enjoy this day.”

How far along are you guys compared to 2008 and 2012?
“I think defensively we’re far ahead of where we were at. I try not to make any of those comparisons. This is a different team. The defense that we’re playing right now; tonight is a prime example of holding a team to 45, 40-something points, and we didn’t have our best offensive game.”

Are you surprised with Jimmy Butler?
“I’m not surprised. He works hard. Jimmy is a workaholic. He’s in the gym all the time. He’s working—working on his game, working on his body. He’s getting the reps in the game, and now he’s one of the premier guys on the Chicago Bulls, the go-to guy on that team. With his confidence and his work ethic, he’s going to continue to grow.”

On using a different kind of ball than the one used in NBA:
“Very difficult. It’s very, very difficult. It takes some time just to get the feel of that basketball, but we adjust to it quickly.”

Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls)
What is it like playing for Team USA?
"It means the world to me. I never thought growing up that I would be drafted in the NBA, much less representing my country in the Olympics. If you're from Chicago, you’ve heard it from me; I’m just a kid from Tomball, Texas. It's a great honor for me to be here."

On the trip to the Olympics:
"If you talk to our guys, we have one goal in mind: Go down there, and play incredible basketball as a team. This is a business trip; we don't want to have any distractions. All we talk about is winning games."

On Dwyane Wade joining the Bulls:
"As you heard from the crowd's reaction, they have already welcomed Dwyane with open arms. I’m looking forward to playing with him.  As we have said with (Rajon) Rondo, we have the three alphas. I like the direction we’re moving. We have played against each other a lot and I think it's great that we can now play together."

Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
On their overall play tonight:
"We didn't score well tonight. We played great defense, though. They didn't score. We did penetrate well but we just need to find our rhythm. We're not lacking in any area as a team.  Our chemistry is great and we love playing together. Tonight, our shots didn't go in. But we played well at the other end. We held them to under 50 points which was our goal and played great defense. Coach is not going to scream because our shots didn't go in. They will in the future. The key was our defense."

On the team chemistry:
"We love playing together. We're out there supporting each other and we’re becoming a tight core group. Our rotations aren’t really developed yet but we've only been together for two weeks. The great thing is there are no egos here. Coach is doing a great job getting us prepared. We have one more game to prepare ourselves for a game against China in Rio. One aspect that I'm really pleased with is our great comradery. It started right away in camp. We just enjoy being together."

On their poor shooting:
"The three’s will go in for us. If not, like tonight, our bigs will do a great job kicking the ball out to set up our offense. We just played great D tonight, which will be the key for us going forward."

On Jimmy Butler?
“You can tell he’s just a team guy. He enjoys competition. He enjoys hard work and just the team aspect of basketball. You can tell that he just really, really enjoys it. He’s been fun to be around. He’s been someone that I’ve gotten close with, someone that I didn’t know too well coming in. But he’s someone I’m really close with now. He’s only going to grow from here. I’ve got so much respect for him. He’s just an A-1 type of working and class guy.”

Is it good to play with the other Warriors players now to help with the transition?
“Everything new has a transition period, but I’m just focusing on my role here for Team USA. We’ll figure that stuff out once training camp starts.”

Paul George (Indiana Pacers)
On sitting out tonight:
“It’s just more important to just be 100%. Right now, these games they mean something but don’t necessarily count for us.”

On the team’s performance tonight and what they need to focus on going forward:
“Continue on with our chemistry really. I thought tonight we were a little flat offensively, but defensively is where we looked amazing. If we can continue on the path of this defense, this game should be a little bit easier for us. I think tonight was a good test for us, we saw a new defense. We haven’t seen much zone since we’ve been together. I thought they did a great job of responding. Shots are going to come, shots are going to fall for us. Offensively it’s not to worry. It’s defensively is where we did a great job tonight.”

On what he expects in the final game before heading to Rio:
“Another strong defensive performance.  Like we’ve been saying this whole trip, offensively we’re going to have enough, defensively is where we’ve got to be strong. If we can continue on this path, every game we’ve held the opponent lesser than the previous game, if we can continue on that path we’ll be all right.”

On why he thinks guys who played in the Olympics see so much success the following NBA season?
“I think for a lot of reasons. One, we’re playing against competition late in the summers. A lot of guys are usually just doing workouts and one-on-one stuff. Plus, we’re playing with the best talent so you have a lot to learn from. You play at a certain level with Team USA, you’re forced to play at a certain level. And that’s high energy all game so you take that back with you, you learn about yourself. You learn that you can play at a high pace for the duration of a game.”

How hard is it for you to adjust to the feel of the international ball?
It’s really hard. It’s far different from the ball we have (in the NBA). It’s real slippery. It feels smaller. It’s light. It’s a complete different ball. When the ball gets wet and slippery it’s almost impossible to handle.

Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
What was Coach K’s recruiting pitch at Duke?
“That he was going to let me be myself. He was going to let me grow into a space with great people around me. It’s truly a brotherhood when you go to Duke. We have a lot of Duke connections from the team. In Vegas, there was a few of us. I posted a picture on Instagram and it was a few. I mean literally Duke wasn’t known for having one and done guys. You look now and we’ve got number one picks. We’ve got number two picks. We’ve got guys that are selling in the NBA from past and present. I’m just thankful for the connection of Duke. I’m glad I signed up. It was the best decision of my life.”

Are you looked at differently by your peers or your coaching staff because you are an NBA champion?
“No, I think that probably just the experience. I know a few guys in the locker room are already NBA Champions, so I’m just glad to be on that list with them. A few of the other guys, they want that. If they have any questions, I know Draymond, Harrison, or myself, or Klay, will answer. But we understand what the process takes in order to win something bigger than you. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I just try to share that knowledge with them as much as possible.”

Second youngest guy on the team but one of the leaders out there. Is that an odd dynamic for you?
“No. This is what I’ve been preparing for my whole entire life. I‘ve put myself in this position. Working extremely hard and having the confidence in my teammates as well as the coaching staff makes that a lot easier.”

Four years ago, when you were going back and forth with Kobe on the select team, did you think you’d be here as the starting point guard for USA Basketball?
“I didn’t know if it was going to happen this soon, but honestly I’m glad it’s now. I’m ready to live in the moment. I’m ready to be in Rio with these great guys in the locker room. I’m just ready to go for gold.”

Did you have a good relationship with Jimmy Butler prior to Team USA? 
“We had a good one. We have a connection through one of the guys that we work out with, Phil Handy. Our relationship is great. I’m a huge fan of Jimmy’s and watching what he did for Chicago. Really putting the team on his back really propelled him into being a great NBA player now. The story behind him too, you have no choice but to respect it-- what he’s come from, what he’s endured, his adversity. He’s just an even better person.”

On how he’s feeling:
"My body is holding up. I am just doing the necessary things in order to play in the Olympics. I’m using these exhibition games to get re-acclimated to basketball."

On being a leader on the team:
"It's been something I’ve been preparing for; for a long time. I’ve been working hard and have the confidence of my teammates and the coaching staff."

On keeping in touch with Coach K:
"It's a mentorship. The relationship I have with my college coach after playing only 11 college games is awesome. Throughout the playoffs and even when I was hurt last year he was texting me, making sure I was ok. It was an easy choice to come play for him."

DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers)
Are you excited to go play in Houston? 
“I’m super excited. I was excited when we went to play in L.A. and play in front of the Clippers’ fans. Now I’m excited to go home. Jimmy and I both are from Houston, so we’ll both be able to play in front of our friends and family. They’ll see us off to Rio, so it’s going to be great and exciting.”


Nestor Garcia – Venezuela Head Coach
On the game:
"It is a privilege to play against the USA team. With the caliber of their players and coaches, it’s special for us to play them before the Olympic games."

Was it your defense or was their (USA) shooting off in the first half?
"Our team is a defensive team. We moved the ball on offense and we play with a lot of passes. We don't have a chance at this level. We know that. We qualified for the Olympics playing defense.  We don’t have great shooters. Our guys play together and that is how we’re successful."

On the loss of Vasquez:
"He could really shoot for us. He’s an NBA quality player so we really lose his offense. Now that he cannot play, we have to make the best of the situation. We have to pass more and play inside. It is impossible for him to play this Olympics."

Why is Carmelo Anthony so special?
"Carmelo creates a lot of mismatches. He shoots like a two guard and he can post up like a five. That’s really tough for our players. he is also a special player. On the basketball court, he’s a killer."

John Cox - Venezuela Guard:
Who did you model your game after growing up?
"Andre Miller, Chauncey Billups, those were guys who were combo players and they played the game really smart. They are steady and they play their game at the same rhythm."

What makes the U.S. team so difficult?
"Their defense is so good.  They can switch at every position.  There is not really another team in the Olympics who can do that.  That means we cannot take advantage of a switch.  Even their bigs can move their feet with our guards.  That is why they are special."

What makes Kyrie Irving a special player?
"He is a really skilled point guard. It is not just his speed, he has a really good mid-range game. He is a really confident player especially after this year. That is why he is a tough match-up."

David Cubillán - Venezuela
On Jimmy Butler's progress since college:
"He’s a hard worker. He gets better every year. I’m proud of him."

Did you see him as an All-Star/Olympian when playing with him in college?
"To be honest, I didn't. He’s a hard worker. I knew he was going to be a good player, but I didn't see him being an All-Star/Olympian. I’m happy for him, and I wish him all the best."

On his team heading towards the Olympics:
"I feel good. I think we’re getting better. I think we play really good defense. We’ve been playing together for four years, and I think we have a good chance."

What's the biggest thing you got out of playing with Butler at Marquette:
"Toughness. If you play at Marquette you have to be tough. That’s why in the NBA you see a lot of Marquette guys."

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