The USA Basketball Men’s National Team is coming off two consecutive Olympic gold medals (2008 and 2012) and a World Championship (2010). Expectations remain high for the squad before they head to the FIBA World Cup in Spain beginning August 30.
But Team USA suffered a setback over the weekend, as Pacers star Paul George suffered a horrific leg break sustained while chasing down a layup during a team scrimmage.
Even in the hospital before his operation, he was upbeat, positive. When we visited him, he said, “Coach, I’m going to be fine. Go for the gold.” He was trying to reassure everybody. It’s amazing. Amazing for that young man to handle things in the way that he did.
The loss of George is tough, but Team USA must press on with its pool of 18 NBA star players, including Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Anthony Davis, who are training in Las Vegas to determine the 12 players to represent the USA at the World Cup. The team is also buoyed with assistant coaches Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Monty Williams (New Orleans Pelicans) and Tom Thibodeau (Chicago Bulls).
Coach K previews the 2014 FIBA World Cup on a special edition of Basketball and Beyond with Coach K airing Monday, August 4th at 6 pm ET on SiriusXM NBA Radio. The two-hour show features Coach K’s thoughts on the team, an interview with Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry and a roundtable discussion with the Team USA assistant coaches.
While the pool of 18 includes NBA All-Stars and USA Basketball veterans, there are notable absences in Blake Griffin and Kevin Love. Griffin declined the invite as he recovers from a back fracture; Love because of intense offseason trade speculation and the risk of injury.
Coach K said he understood the reasoning for both players not participating but did note the impact on the makeup of the World Cup team.
“Not having them here means that we’re smaller,” Coach K said on Basketball and Beyond. “You have two of the best players in NBA not here, that hurts you. We have to look at the selection process in a little bit different way.”
Curry won a gold medal with the 2010 World Championship and 2012 Olympic teams. Curry sat down with Coach K to talk about how his experience helps him this time around.
“The 2010 experience was something I’ll never forget,” Curry told Krzyzewski. “This is an opportunity that I don’t take for granted. A lot of guys make it to the NBA and that’s such a special thing, but it’s an even more select group that gets to wear a USA jersey and to be a part of that fraternity is something you can live with that the rest of your life.”