Streaming Flashback: Bryant's Last Second Shot Carries USA Blue To 105-104 Win In 2007 State Farm USA Basketball Challenge
USA Basketball is streaming select nation team exhibition contests every Tuesday (women) and Thursday (men) through July 9. This week’s men’s national team exhibition re-air is from July 22, 2007, when Kobe Bryant, wearing a USA uniform for the first time, drained the game winner with :06 left to lead the USA Blue Team to a 105-104 victory in the 2007 State Farm USA Basketball Challenge in Las Vegas. The game will be streamed 8 p.m. EDT at USAB.com/live and on USA Basketball Twitter and Facebook pages. During the re-air, USA National Team managing director Jerry Colangelo, USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski and USA team member Chauncey Billups will discuss the USA National Team program and recall their favorite memories from the 2007 exhibition.
• Watch (July 9 @ 8 pm EDT)
In a town known for its entertainment, it didn't get any better than the 2007 State Farm USA Basketball Challenge that was held on July 22 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Featuring 17 players from the USA Basketball Men's Senior National Team divided into Blue and White teams, an energized crowd of 15,132 and a national television audience were treated to a game as entertaining as it was competitive.
Not that it really mattered, but for the record, in the end it was the USA Blue Team that rallied back for the 105-104 win over the USA White squad. But the win was realized only after Kobe Bryant, wearing a USA uniform for the first time, drained the game winner on a 14' jumper above the foul line with :06 left and LeBron James' shot to capture the win for his White team was off target at the buzzer.
“We're really pleased with the training camp. The minicamp went even better than we imagined, and I think that's because of the veterans we added to the team and the maturity of our team both physically and emotionally was just a lot better,” said USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“They all want to be here; they like one another; and they handled today as true professionals. They played that game very hard, and we need to just keeping going with that.”
The intra-squad clash capped a minicamp that was held to help select and prepare the USA team for the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship that was held Aug. 22-Sept.#2 in Las Vegas. The top two finishing teams in the 10-team FIBA Americas Championship earned qualifying spots for the 2008 Olympics.
“We felt it would be a competitive game, and I think that was deliberate and staged because you could bank on the players that we put together would be competitive, and you couldn't have scripted it any better,” said Colangelo.
After just two training sessions, the USA closed out its Las Vegas mini-training camp with the State Farm USA Basketball Challenge.
The White team jumped out to 26-23 lead after the first 10 minute quarter and by halftime owned a 56-49 advantage. Long-range shooter Mike Miller and NBA All-Star James paced the White in the first 20 minutes,pumping in 17 and 16 points, respectively, while the Blue club stayed within striking distance thanks to Bryant's 17 first half points and 13 points from Carmelo Anthony.
The two teams continued to swing away at each other, and with 10 minutes remaining White led 83-77.
The White team opened a lead as large as 11 points in the fourth stanza and enjoyed a 99-89 lead with 5:10 left on the clock. The Blue's Kevin Durant, the youngest member of the USA Senior Team at 18 years old, scored five-consecutive points to help get his squad back on track, and when Bryant nailed a 3-pointer with 1:35 remaining the game was even at 101.
Chris Bosh capitalized on one-of-two free throws to give a one point lead to the White, but Bryant countered with a jumper with 1:04 to play to give the Blue its first lead since holding a 6-5 advantage at the 7:44 mark of the opening quarter.
With the vocal Thomas & Mack crowd on its feet, Jason Kidd pushed the White back in front 104-103 with 29 seconds to go when he drove and converted a layup for his one and only shot and his only points of the game. With the clock winding down, Bryant got the ball in his hands and came through big to earn the Blue the win.
The Blue's Anthony headed the game's scoring with 28 points, while adding six rebounds, four assists and three steals. Bryant finished with 26 points, four rebounds, five assists and five steals, while Durant added 22 points and Amare' Stoudemire finished with 12 points and eight boards. Tyson Chandler paced the Blue Team's rebounding with 13 rebounds to go with five points and a pair of blocked shots. Utah Jazz guard Deron Williams handed out nine assists and added six points.
“It's been a great couple of days. It's a start, we understand that it's a first step and obviously we still have a long way to go but these couple of days were great to get familiar with one another and play within a system and a structure,” said Bryant. “As you saw today, everybody got a chance to see what we've been going through at practice for the last couple of days - it's extremely competitive, everybody still having a good time and enjoying themselves, but really going at each other, and I think that's really what's really going to make us better and help elevate our level.”
The White was led by Miller's 22 points; Dwight Howard collected 21 points and nine rebounds; James was credited with 18 points; Michael Redd added 17 points; and Bosh posted a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds. Kidd, a 2000 Olympic gold medalist, finished with eight assists and added six rebounds and a pair of steals.
“I think it was great that everybody came in with the mind set to get better,” stated James. “We knew we weren't going to be here long, but everybody used these three days to get better and it showed in today's game. As well as we played today, I'm excited to get back here in August when we finally become one unit and go against the world.”
“Everybody came to compete, there was a lot of competition out there, friendly competition, which will make us better. We all have one goal and that is to win the gold medal. You could see that starting at the team meeting Thursday, and it just carried over to the game. It was probably better than the All-Star Game. For both teams to compete and push each other, it's just going to make everything easier once it comes to playing the rest of the world,” said Kidd.
“I didn't come here to lose. We have one goal. There's no ego, there's no you know 'who's the best on the team'. This is one team, we win and lose together,” added Kidd.
The 2007 USA Senior Team, comprised of 12 players (Carmelo Anthony; Chauncey Billups; Kobe Bryant; Tyson Chandler; Dwight Howard; LeBron James; Jason Kidd; Mike Miller; Tayshaun Prince; Michael Redd; Amare' Stoudemire; and Deron Williams) from the National Team program, rumbled over its opposition at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada, and finished 10-0 to win gold and capture one of the FIBA Americas zone's two qualifying berths for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
In winning its 10 games in just 12 days, the USA averaged 116.7 ppg., the most by a USA senior national team since the 1994 USA World Championship Team averaged 120.1 ppg.; and the USA defeated its 10 opponents by an average of 39.5 ppg., the largest margin by a senior squad since the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team defeated its opponents by 43.8 ppg.