The start of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio is fast approaching and it appears as though Team USA Men’s Basketball is more than ready for the challenge. On Sunday July 24, Team USA Men’s Basketball held an exhibition game against China at the Staples Center in Los Angeles as their second of five stops in their USA Training Camp schedule, bringing a small taste of the Olympics to the local community before they head to South America. The team started training in Las Vegas, NV, on July 18 and played Argentina during their stay. They now prepare to face and Nigeria in Houston at the Toyota Center at 7 p.m.
The Team USA Men’s Basketball team consists of 12 NBA players: #4 – Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls), #5 – Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors), #6 – DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers), #7 – Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors), #8 – Harrison Barnes (Dallas Mavericks), #9 – DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors), #10 – Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), #11 – Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors), #12 – DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), #13 – Paul George (Indiana Pacers), #14 – Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors), and #15 – Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks). They are coached by the legendary Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K.), who is in his final season as head coach for the men’s Olympic team; San Antonio Spurs head coach Grep Popovich steps into the role after the Rio Olympic Games.
The exhibition game against China was entertaining despite being a blowout almost throughout its entirety; it ended in a 106-57 Team USA victory. The one thing that came as somewhat of a surprise was during player introductions where Team USA players Kevin Durant and Draymond Green were both met with resounding boos from the sold-out Staples Center crowd. Durant recently decided to leave his NBA team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and sign a two-year deal with the Golden State Warriors. Green was already seen as a polarizing figure from the suspension event, among other things, that occurred in the 2016 NBA Playoffs. However, despite the negative feedback, both players showed up and gave their all on the court. Durant especially showed the boos didn’t affect him, scoring 19 points and racking up five assists.
The team really hasn’t faced much resistance from their opponents in their two games thus far, but Coach K. addressed this point in the post-game presser saying that it shouldn’t be a problem going forward. He commented on how the focus of the team is more on the rules and the flow of the game rather than focusing on how challenging the competition is going to be. It was very evident that the coach was trying to emphasize that he is just trying to focus on getting the team to gel at this point and learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Although this is going to be Krzyzewski’s last season coaching the team, he was not in a very reflective mood about the situation. He was definitely only focused on the here and now, trying to get his team ready to win gold at the Olympics. However, it was clear that he is going to miss being around the team and the Olympics—he jokingly commented on how he will miss the team laughing at his jokes, even if they were horrible.
The 2016 Olympic Games will start on Friday 5 and run through Aug. 21, and it appears as though Team USA Men’s Basketball is more than ready for the task at hand, because they thoroughly handled both China and Argentina. To follow all of Team USA’s exploits throughout the Olympics, visit www.nbcolympicscom/ to stay up to date with the latest news, and follow the Team USA Men’s Basketball team on Twitter @usabasketball or view their website www.usab.com.