Quotes: U.S. Men vs Iran
USA head coach Gregg Popovich
Can you give us your comments about the game?
I thought we played good defense for a long period of time and shared the ball throughout the game very, very well against the very hard working Iranian team that executes what they do very, very well. So I was pleased that we were able to guard them.
Did having the full group together for maybe the first time over the past couple of days, did that give you a better idea of how the pieces fit and do you anticipate that there'll be more consistency from game to game on how you're using lineups and rotations and things like that?
Well, I think that goes without saying. The longer a group is together the better they're going to execute. The more familiarity they have, the better. So being able to have them play with each other these last couple of days of practice has been really important and hopefully that'll continue. We have room to improve, obviously, in that regard and I think it will show a little bit more each time we get out on the court.
What does Jrue (Holiday) do for this lineup and then you said that you think about this every day, the team and what you're going to do. Had you always envisioned when he got back, putting him into the starting lineup or was there something that you saw Sunday to cut the trigger that?
it just makes sense you know with this group to have him out there, you know he's in great shape for obvious reasons and he's a very tough minded, physical player. He's someone who is a quiet leader. and I think that having among the court just gives us confidence, defensively, and aggressiveness wise. He makes good decisions on top all that and I think it's pretty obvious to anybody that saw the group that he should be on the court at the start of games.
They played the anthems before the games and both teams applauded and you shook hands with the Iranian coach and shared some kind words, he told us some of it. From somebody who appreciates, understands history, and world politics as much as you do, the US and Iran sharing the court for two hours. What was the significance of that? Are there lessons to be taken, I guess, why does sports get it right when diplomacy so often fails?
Well I’m not the answer man, I'm not the Secretary of State or anything like that. So I'm not sure what you're looking for. But in general, you know, I think people in different countries get along a whole lot better than their governments do. You know, people in all these separate countries, we're running the show, we'd be a lot better off. You know, once you get to the politicians and that sort of thing, it becomes much more complicated with, you know, self-interest and ideologies and personal agendas. But the people generally get along, appreciate each other no matter what country you're talking about. I really believe that , I've always believed that. And, you know, the Olympics here, this is a venue in a time where sports transcends all that petty crap that you get from governments. So there's no surprise that the coaches would enjoy, you know, meeting each other and talking to each other and the players. Show the sportsmanship that they did, because that we just wish that that was real life and that we all have to live through
Is it natural when you've got a group of guys who all kind of want to do the right thing and be unselfish, that that's just sort of a natural maturation process for a group when they come together?
Well that’s just one of the big things, you know, on our team, each one of these guys scores 20, or 25, or 30 for their teams and their teams depend on that every night. We can't play like that and so we don't. They appreciate each other they know what their teammates can do and you know, 35 assists is pretty good. So they understand that good basketball is sharing the basketball, you know, good to great, hitting the open man, that sort of thing and all the teams that have gotten to the Olympics understand that, that's not a secret. So I'm very happy that our guys understand that too, even though they're each dependent on to do so much for the entire season. Everybody's in a sense, kind of a role player now. We don't we don't need heroes.
What's the dynamic with so many great minds, so many great coaching minds on one staff?
What staff is that?
I can’t answer a question like that. That's an exaggeration, hyperbole. There's great coaches all over the world. Did you see those guys cut and curl and move and pass the ball? You know, they're not as skilled as our guys, obviously, but as far as playing basketball the right way, they did just as good a job as we did. So coaching had nothing to do with that win today. I know most of these guys from over the years, and they're wonderful coaches. It's not private property of the USA or anything like that. The whole world is full of coaches and players who were wonderful.
You guys have played a really tough schedule all summer, I think, you know, probably three or four of top five teams rolled after you guys. At some point today did it help just to let these guys sort of see their talent, even though it was a hard working team, it wasn't one that could kind of run with you guys and some of that stuff, these guys can actually see the block away and just some of the things that they haven't got a chance to do and get some really, really good teams in the first few games.
Well, these guys really appreciate playing with each other, they don't get that chance very often. And now that they're complete, and the whole group is here, they're having fun doing what you saw. And each time we get out in the court they do it more and more and better and better as they get confidence in the group and how we want to play. So it's a matter of being aggressive at both ends of the floor, but not getting in mud, you know, using their skills, being free to play the game but play it the right way and I think we did that.
It looked like really good ball movement really good fluidity lady could you feel that out there?
Yeah, you know just playing together, you know I think everybody was themselves tonight, just playing free and then letting our talent to do what it does, you know we have a really talented group.
This was your second game here in the Olympics, what were you really looking to do?
Win the game, win the basketball game, especially a tough loss to France. You know as a team we just want to do whatever we can do to win the game, whether that's scoring or rebounding, making a play for your teammate, whatever you have to do to win.
On his thoughts on the win:
Especially after a tough loss last game (against France on Sunday), to compete tonight, today we came out with more freedom as individuals and took the shots that we normally like to take, and they went in tonight, and we guarded up, so it was a good step.
On whether the team was more in sync this game:
I felt like we were in sync last game, but like I've been saying, it's a make or miss game, and we created good shots last game and I think tonight it's the continuity of what we've been doing the last week or so and we kind of finally capitalised on the stuff that we've been working on.
On the team’s chemistry:
Like I said, our chemistry has been great since day one. We're all excited to be here, I mean this is the Olympics, this is the national team, but I think we were a bit too unselfish early on and tried not to step on toes.
We were a bit too unselfish and that bit us before, but tonight I think guys came out there and were super aggressive to look for their shot but also keep everybody involved, and we were able to make some shots. Damian (LILLARD) came out, got it scorching for us, so we're gonna need that going forward.
On starting line-up changes from last game:
Last game we had to play two bigs and I think that might have clogged it up a bit for us all offensively. Defensively we've been solid the whole time, but offensively we were trying to find our rhythm.
I played the four (position), so I was able to stretch the floor a bit and give guys space and we were able to get some confidence and knock some shots down.”
Your opening comments?
I think after our loss to France we all, you know, had two days between games and you know, everybody just wanted to get back out there and get right. No, I thought we came out we showed a lot, a lot more urgency, a lot more energy, our pace was up. We competed much harder defensively and put a lot of pressure on them and was able to get out and get easier baskets play in space, using our length and athleticism and our talent very well against him. I think if we play the way we played tonight, we got a great chance to accomplish the goal that we set out coming here.
I saw where you said on TV about stopping to kind of do the right thing and come out and start shooting. Did you come to that conclusion on your own? Or was there somebody you've gotten your ear to push in that direction?
I think if I had to say one person, I’d say Dramond. Draymond was just like, ‘Damian Lillard doesn't hesitate to shoot a ball, especially at the end of the game.’ You know I had a turnover at the end of the first game, where I tried to make a swing to the corner and the guy like stunted at me and went to the passing lane and saved it. And they ended up hitting the 3 to take the lead and ended up winning the game. And he was just like, ‘you know that's not, that's not what you do. You knock those type of shots down, you know, and that's what we needed you to do in that moment. So, you being passive and passing up opportunities like that doesn't serve this team well.’ And, you know, we spoke about it, and, you know, it was simple, I just said, ‘I should have shot it, and you know it won't happen again, and I'm gonna come correct going forward.’ And I think our communication as a group, you know, just being in a hotel together, being in the dining areas together, at practice shooting around, just talking, I feel like after that loss we came together, you know, it was a lot of communication between then and now where it was like alright it’s time start looking like Team USA.
It was a clear victory for USA. So I'm just asking what does it mean for you personally to play in the national team and compete here in Tokyo for the medal.
It means a lot, you know. When I first got in the league it was a priority of mine to be a part of the Olympics, you know, be a part of Team USA. And it's a process, you know, especially when you're younger, and you got so many stars competing in this, it's tough to be able to participate. So, me being coming out of my ninth year going into my 10th and finally being able to be here is an honor, you know, to be able to suit up and play with the best players in our league. And to be a part of the Olympics, you know, it's something that not a lot of people get the opportunity to do and I'm proud to be on this team and proud to be here competing.
When you have a new crew coming together, how much added communication is there from your perspective to make sure everybody's on one page?
That's extremely important, because we all have a lot of respect for each other and we see we see each other a lot. And we play this game against each other at the highest level so I think we all come in, and we don't want to, you know, step on each other's toes, we want to, like I said after the last game do the right thing. We want to show guys that we're willing to sacrifice and we want to be a part of the team. So for us to be able to open up those lines of communication and come together and figure it out and want to be on the same page the way the way I feel like we’ve shown over the last few days behind closed doors is it makes it even more fun to be a part of you know, and I think it leads to performances like tonight, you know, regardless of the team we play against, if we play that brand, defense and offense, and we together the way we were communicating and our energy is right, that brand of basketball will stand up against any team. And I think we should continue to try to ride that out.
You touched on a little bit at the end of the France game, maybe trying to make the extra pass or do the right thing. Is that the challenge when you put a group of great players, they'll actually a lot of great scores, and particularly together and a group like this to kind of find one when to go get yours versus, you know, a desire to try to be an unselfish teammate.
I don't even think is going to get yours, I think is more of being who you are. And just trust in the fact that, you know, our teammates are going to understand that we're just being us, it’s not a selfish act. And I think everybody was worried about not wanting to look selfish or not look like they're not throwing themselves into the team. I think it showed with how guys were kind of hesitant, kind of passive and I think we are starting to figure out, you know, that being ourselves and doing what we do is what's gonna work for us. You know, that's playing fast, using our athleticism, using our speed, finding shooters, you know we got a lot of guys that can score and you know, not being shy about it. And like I said earlier, because of the communication that we've been having I think is it made it more clear for guys to know like, I don't care if Jason Tatum come down and shoot four shots in a row or Kevin Durant and gets hot and he keeps rolling, or Zach LaVine on Devin Booker, you know, it’s clear, you know, I think we’re getting to where we need to be for us to be successful.
The USA appeared much more fluid and had much better movement:
Yeah, one of our goals today was just move the ball, get easier looks for one another. Obviously, we didn’t shoot the ball well last game so seeing the ball go in today and just kind of being more of ourselves on that instance and still competing on defense today
How important is a game like this after the game against France?
I mean, it's good, but you know, we weren’t focused on the last game coming out today, we're just focusing on us and trying to be better.