Team USA coach Gregg Popovich on Bradley Beal: ‘I’m dying for him’

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NBC Sports 17 July, 2021 - 07:00am 16 views

Who is replacing Bradley Beal on Team USA?

2020 Olympics: JaVale McGee and Keldon Johnson replace Bradley Beal and Kevin Love on the USA Basketball men's national team. The team has made some last second replacements befoe heading off to Tokyo. Bullets Forever2020 Olympics: McGee, Johnson replace Beal, Love on USA MBB team

Why is Bradley Beal leaving Team USA?

Love's withdrawal comes a day after the U.S. team announced that Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal would miss the Olympics because he was in health and safety protocols. Love would have been trying for a second Olympic gold medal, having played for the Americans in London in 2012. Los Angeles TimesMcGee and Johnson to replace Love and Beal on U.S. team

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

I’m dying for him. We all are. Since he’s a little kid, this has been a dream of his. He was playing great. He was having fun, being a big part of us coming together chemistry-wise and as a family. So, for him and his family, immediate family, it’s devastating. So, we just feel horrible about it.

If Beal is vaccinated, it’s easy to feel terribly for him. He was so excited to play in the Olympics.

But if he chose not to get vaccinated and contracted coronavirus, there is a level of personal responsibility that comes with the sympathy. It’s still a bitter disappointment.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has learned to set aside his ego and pride to have fun and enjoy the moment while dominating in the NBA Finals.

Bradley Beal's Olympic dreams came to an unfortunate end on Thursday afternoon after he entered health and safety protocol.

Jacksonville made perhaps its best value pick in the entire draft by taking Andre Cisco in the third round. The safety could compete for a starting job on Day 1 if he's healthy.

Damian Lillard sat down with Yahoo Sports for an exclusive interview centered on Team USA’s early struggles and on where he currently stands with the Trail Blazers.

Zach LaVine noted it sucks that Beal will miss the Olympics.

Kevin Durant went on Twitter Spaces to pour cold water on several narratives about his time with the Warriors.

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The United States also replaced Kevin Love with former Wizard JaVale McGee.

Team USA lost to a team of WNBA All-Stars just a couple of days before.

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The tension between world number eight Koepka and number six DeChambeau provided an interesting sub-plot before the event and matters escalated after DeChambeau apologised on Thursday for comments he made about his own driver. DeChambeau, who has packed on roughly 30 pounds of muscle and become the longest hitter on the PGA Tour, said his driver "sucks" after he found four of 14 fairways in his one-over-par start at Royal St. George's. Speaking in an interview with Golf Channel after his second round, Koepka said he "drove the ball great" with a grin.

Bellator 262 takes place Friday in Connecticut, and you can discuss the event here.

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Photo: German tennis player Steffi Graf playing in the 1988 Wimbledon women's singles tournament. If an athlete claims victory in each Grand Slam, otherwise known as tennis majors - Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open - and also wins gold at the Olympic Games or Paralympic Games, that person achieves a Golden Slam, or Golden Grand Slam.

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Australian great Andrew Bogut seemingly mocked Cambage online, while another Aussie NBA alum said she's "unbearable to be around as a teammate."

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United States vs. Australia preview and GameThread

Bullets Forever 17 July, 2021 - 11:10am

The American women’s team is in a similar predicament as the men in this one respect: they are a collection of talent that will have to get themselves together much more quickly while their European foes do, considering that Women’s EuroBasket was just last month. They are also coming off a loss in the WNBA All-Star Game on Wednesday which will be a wake-up call.

The Opals will have Mystics guard Leilani Mitchell will be without Las Vegas Aces center Liz Cambage, who withdrew from the Olympic team last minute to focus on her mental health.

That said, the news also came after Cambage was in a physical and verbal altercation with a Nigerian player during a closed-door scrimmage.

Cambage was involved in a physical altercation, as well as a charged verbal exchange, sources told ESPN. There are discussions regarding her potential removal from the team ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

I’m giving the Americans the advantage in this one given that they lost their last game and that Australia literally just had this change.

Regarding a USA men’s basketball topic, here is a general question for you all. Whom do you think should replace Beal on the lineup? Do you think that his absence will be a point that can help the rest of the team build more chemistry together, or could this be the end of the Americans’ run of medal-winning runs since 1980 when the US boycotted the games in Moscow, Soviet Union? After all, they haven’t played well in this tournament, until the Argentina game last Wednesday.

Chat about the game here. Go Team USA!

The most memorable moments in Olympic basketball history

Sporting News AU 17 July, 2021 - 11:10am

The Summer Olympics have been a driving force in the globalisation of basketball, with international basketball now as strong as it's ever been.

From the 1992 Dream Team to Argentina's golden generation, the Olympic stage has created highlights and storylines that live on through generations. As the 2020 Olympic Games approach, let's take a look back at some of the most iconic moments in Olympic basketball history.

Where else do we start than the Dream Team?

The single greatest collection of basketball talent on one team changed the course of international basketball forever, making their mark as the first team of professionals to compete for the United States. 

Led by Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen, the Dream Team was stacked with Hall of Famers, who put on a basketball exhibition for the world as they cruised to a gold medal, winning eight games by an average of 43.8 points per game.

Not only was the Dream Team pure entertainment, they were the rock stars of the Barcelona Olympics who inspired a generation of hoopers around the world. 

"It had a huge impact in Europe. If you see interviews that I did or Dirk or Pau Gasol, Manu Ginóbili – we all were affected by the Dream Team,” France and San Antonio Spurs legend Tony Parker said.

"That was the point where we were like, 'Wow basketball is cool, want to go to the NBA, maybe it's possible.'

"It definitely started for me after the Olympics."

Is there a highlight from an Olympic basketball event that gets more airplay than Vince Carter's dunk?

Apologies to France’s center Frederic Weis, who is probably sick of seeing that clip do the rounds every four years, but Carter's dunk is legendary.

As Carter picked up the ball off a France turnover, he had nothing but eyes for the rim, with a 7-foot-2 Weis in his way. It didn't matter. He cleared the Frenchman to throw down the one-handed jam, referred to by the French media as “le dunk de la mort” — the dunk of death.

The notoriously high-flying Vince Carter turned a routine steal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics into one of the most memorable basketball highlights of all time.

What the Dream Team is for international basketball, the 1996 USA women's team is for the WNBA.

After finishing third at the 1992 Olympics and 1994 World Championships, there was a renewed focus on women's basketball with one goal in mind. Gold. 

The Americans embarked on a 52-game global exhibition run to prepare for the Olympic Games, facing off against various college teams and international squads. They went on to go undefeated on their way to a gold medal, winning by an average margin of 45.2 points.

That team spawned a run of six-straight gold medals through 2016, winning all 48 games. 

Led by stars Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Rebecca Lobo, Jennifer Azzi and Dawn Staley, the current coach of the USA National Team, the 1996 team is credited with fueling the inception of the WNBA, which this year is also celebrating its 25th anniversary.

“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them and the foundation they set for us,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said at this week's All-Star Game. 

Argentina rode the momentum of beating Team USA in the 2002 World Championships prior to the Athens Olympics, as their golden generation continued to take the basketball world by storm. 

Led by Manu Ginobili, Carlos Delfino, Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni, Fabricio Oberto, Walter Herrmann, Pepe Sanchez and Ruben Wolkowyski, the Argentinians went on to make history in 2004, beating Team USA in the semi-finals 89-81, thanks to a game-high 29 points from Ginobili.

They went on to beat Italy in the gold medal game by 15 points and became the first and only Latin American team to win Olympic basketball gold since men's basketball was introduced to the Games in 1936. 

It was the first time Team USA hadn't won gold since professionals were allowed to compete at the Olympics. If the 1992 Olympics was when the rest of the world got caught up in basketball, 2004 was the fruition of that globalisation. 

At the 2012 London Olympic Games, Australia's Liz Cambage created history, becoming the first woman to dunk in Olympic competition. 

Against Russia in the pool stage, Cambage caught the ball at the top of the lane with 6:14 left in the third quarter, taking one dribble before exploding to the basket for the one-handed dunk.

"That's the first time I've seen it in the Olympics," Opals legend Lauren Jackson said after the game.

"Even in the WNBA, you see some girls do it, on a fast break, but she had the zone around her, she had people around her. She made it look so easy."

Australia went on to win a bronze medal, but Cambage owned the moment of the tournament. 

With tensions high between the Soviet Union and the USA in 1972, controversy loomed as the USSR claimed victory in the gold medal game.

Doug Collins drained two free throws to put the USA up 50-49, but the horn went off during his second shot. The Soviets claimed they had called for a timeout before Collins' free throw and the official had not stopped the game. 

Three seconds were put back on the clock, but the Soviets failed to score as the USA celebrated their win. 

After another review, it was confirmed the official had prematurely started the inbound play before the clock had been reset, leading to yet another replay. 

Following the confusing final seconds, the USSR launched a full-court pass to Aleksander Belov, who scored to make it 51-50 and snatch the gold medal from the USA's grasp. 

In one of the most controversial finishes in Olympic basketball history, the USA officially protested the result and to this day have still not claimed their silver medals. 

Fresh off finishing third at the 2004 Olympic Games, the "Redeem Team" had a mission to restore USA basketball to the top of the world. 

In the gold medal game against Spain at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, that goal was in jeopardy as the Spanish side, led by their golden generation of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, Rudy Fernández, José Calderón and a teenage Ricky Rubio, had their eyes on an upset.

Leading 91-89 with 8:13 to go in the fourth quarter, Bryant scored five points, found Deron Williams for a 3-pointer and set up a Dwight Howard dunk. Two contested 3-pointers later — one a 4-point play — and Bryant had scored 13 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to go along with a game-high six assists and two blocks in 27 minutes. 

On a team that featured LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and a host of NBA All-Stars, they were reduced to spectators as Bryant did what he does best. 

Gator Great Bradley Beal Set to Miss Tokyo Olympics Due to Health and Safety

Spartan Nation 17 July, 2021 - 07:30am

Earlier this week, it was announced that Beal would be ruled out of the Tokyo Olympics due to health and safety protocols. Beal would ultimately be placed in the protocol on Wednesday and ruled out on Thursday.

Out of an abundance of caution, the game between Team USA and Team Australia was canceled. USA's final exhibition matchup will take place against Team Spain on Sunday.

ESPN reported that USA coach Gregg Popovich stated later that the team felt "horrible" about Beal not being able to participate, something the Washington Wizard guard wanted to do since he was little.

“I'm dying for [Beal]. We all are,” Popovich said. "Since he was a little kid, this has been a dream of his, and he was playing great. ... For him and his immediate family, it's devastating. We just feel horrible about it.”

To replace Beal, USA will use the services of San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson and Denver Nuggets big man JaVale McGee as replacements for not only Beal but also Cavilers guard Kevin Love who opted out due to a lingering calf injury.

COVID-19 has been something the entire nation and the world has dealt with for well over a year now. Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo knows very well how Beal is feeling, he says, after having contracted the virus in the past.

"This is one of those things I wouldn't wish on anybody," said Adebayo. "It does give you PTSD. But I did check with Brad, he said he has no symptoms. So, I think this will pass through and it will be okay."

"It's whatever they need me to do" - Zach Ready for USA role | Chicago Bulls

Bulls.com 16 July, 2021 - 06:39pm

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"It's whatever they need me to do" - Zach LaVine is ready to step into whatever role is needed as USA Basketball sees changes ahead of departure to Tokyo.

As Zach LaVine goes, so goes the USA's Men's Basketball Olympic team?

It's not quite there yet, but the Bulls' guard's role has taken on added importance with the departure of Bradley Beal from the team for Covid reasons and the uncertainty surrounding Jayson Tatum, who sat out the last game with knee soreness.

LaVine in that 108-80 win over Argentina in his first start had 15 points, five rebounds and a steal, and is one of five players on the USA team averaging in double figures including Beal and Tatum. LaVine leads the team in steals per minute. Now with Beal not traveling to Japan and no further word on Tatum with the team's Friday game with Argentina cancelled for virus precautions, LaVine's role may become more prominent. Especially since reports were JaVale McGee and Keldon Johnson are expected to replace Beal and Kevin Love, the latter withdrawing from the team Friday with ongoing physical issues.

"It's whatever they need me to do," LaVine said on a Friday afternoon Zoom media call from Las Vegas. "Obviously, if they need some more scoring, obviously, I think everybody knows I can do that. I'll be fine with whatever role they give me. I'm just here to try to help us bring back the gold medal and continue to learn from these guys and get better. Whatever role they put me in, I think I can excel in.

"We're mixing lineups up," LaVine said about potentially starting regularly. "If Pop (coach Gregg Popovich) throws me in the starting lineup, I'll be fine with that. If I come off the bench, like I was doing before playing six minutes, seven minutes, eight minutes, I'm fine with that, too. We'll see what happens going forward. Throughout the last couple days (in practices), I played some starter minutes and some bench minutes. It's not up to me."

It's been a difficult start for the USA team, losing its first two games to Nigeria and Australia and now losing Beal, who was being considered part of its Big Three with Durant and Lillard.

Lillard was the big newsmaker Friday, if no fault of his as he said he awoke to read media stories that he was asking to be traded. Of course, social media speculation on destinations immediately went into overdrive. Lillard spoke after LaVine on the conference call and denied he's made any trade request. It's been an evolving issue with the Trailblazers' early elimination from the playoffs again, the dismissal of coach Terry Stotts and Lillard's early advocacy for Jason Kidd, whom Portland didn't consider as coach. Kidd signed with Dallas. Chauncey Billups was hired as Portland coach and with general manager Neil Olshey was meeting with Lillard Friday. Lillard said in answer to a question he still expected to play in Portland this season. Though these sorts of issues often develop into a change of teams.

LaVine seems settled, certainly, with the USA team and on the rise.

He appeared to be a late addition, but his play especially with the highlight dunk of the week against Argentina and the best overall shooting among the guards may increase his role. Popovich initially talked about LaVine as a defensive type role player for the team in the mold of Jimmy Butler with the 2016 team. But especially without Beal, LaVine's scoring might now become more important.

That seemed to be paramount after the first two losses and LaVine's start in Game 3. "I know I'm locked in and ready to go and compete overseas," said LaVine, who appears to be cherishing his increasing position in basketball after his first All-Star appearance this season. "Just going out here and learning from all these other great players. Working on my conditioning and as the glue guy. Everyone knows I can score. I think my role is to bring energy, pressure the ball and just do whatever it takes. They need me to score one night. They need me to facilitate. Whatever it is. Just show how I can impact basketball and winning.

"First game," LaVine explained, "I really wanted to go out there and pressure the ball. They really wanted me to try to impact the ball on defense. Pick up the energy, pick up the pace. I feel like I did that. Took my shots when they were there. Second game, got my spot minutes. I think they switched the lineup a little bit, just seeing different guys. In the exhibition games, that's what we're going to do. Then third game obviously with (Tatum) out that changes. Obviously, I can be a little bit more like me. Being in the starting lineup, I can still go out there and impact the ball on defense but look to be more aggressive as well. That was just on how I thought the game would go."

LaVine is shooting 50 percent overall and 33 percent on threes in the three games. Lillard and Durant are just below 50 percent overall and on threes while Tatum is at about 40 percent overall and 22 percent on threes with the knee soreness. The situation could demand more offense from LaVine with the additions to the team seemingly an attempt to address the lack of size with the original roster choices. The USA team was soundly out rebounded in the two losses.

Durant is the team's go-to scorer with previous gold medal experience and is the leading scorer thus far at 17 per game. Lillard is averaging 16.3.

Though the 0-2 start including the unprecedented loss to Nigeria was an alarm bell for some for this USA team.

"I don't have any concern," insisted LaVine. "We're in here working. Once we get all the guys back, I think they'll try to find their way and work as well. We just have to help everybody along. I think we're the best basketball players in the world. We're able to compete and do things under certain circumstances. We have to get the job done regardless. I don't think anyone is going to feel bad for us or try to take it easy. It's just what it is and we have to get a job done.

"I think we all have got to improve, continue to get continuity with each other," said LaVine. "We have to learn to be a team. Some of these teams have been playing together for three or four years. Even though they've had some guys in the league, they've still had the same system, playing with the same guys. We've had four practices and two, three games. We all have to catch up and get chemistry with each other. What I'm most impressed about with my learning experience (is) just being around a bunch of great players. You get to pick up different things, get to talk to different guys on different levels. We have future Hall of Famers, all-NBA players, All-Stars on this team. So it's just go out there and talk to everybody and showcase all our talents on the same floor."

The USA team still is scheduled to play a final exhibition game Sunday against Spain before leaving for Tokyo and its first game against France Sunday morning (Chicago time) July 25. And LaVine is ready for a bit more of the physical play than the NBA sees anymore.

"The NBA game is a lot faster," LaVine said. "I think you get up and down the court a little bit better. I like the physical play (in FIBA). I think that's something different. We're really able to put hands on everybody and be physical. You're able to do that in the NBA at some points, but not throughout the whole game."

Zach LaVine is ready to hit the international stage in many ways.

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