Team USA has started their preparations for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, as some of the biggest names in the NBA world have gathered in Las Vegas to begin their training camp. Although a couple of names are still missing due to the NBA Finals going on, the core of the group led by Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, and coach Gregg Popovich are all here and ready to bring the gold once again to the States.
Even though they will be missing a fair share of superstars, one player Popovich can count on is Kevin Durant. The Nets forward had a fantastic comeback this season, averaging 26.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg, and 5.6 apg, almost leading Brooklyn single-handedly to the ECF. It showed the world KD is back and in the conversation for possibly being the best player in the world.
So when in the flurry of declines Popovich saw that Durant would be playing, a huge burden fell off his chest. Sure, the USA will always form a great team, but without Durant, as their number one guy, they would have been viewed as a drastically worse team, and a team few other nations could challenge and even beat.
The legendary coach of the San Antonio Spurs and one of the brightest tacticians the league has ever seen, Pop was more than happy to see Durant accept the invite. He shared how he would have reacted if Durant didn't go, in the only way Pop knows:
"Well, first of all, if he said 'no,' I would have begged, cried, anything I could to change his mind. That's pretty obvious. But what it says about him, number one is that he loves the game. He really loves to play basketball. He loves to win. He loves the camaraderie. He wants to be part of this all the time, as we all know. And that's his motivation at the core. That's what he loves to do. And luckily for all of us, that's who he is. So it's a testament to his character and just desire to be part of a team and have a challenge and seek the success."
Gregg Popovich, via The New York Post
Durant's love for the game is well known and impeccable, as he proved that once again. All Durant wants to do is play basketball, and that is why this will be the third time representing the USA Team in the Olympics, but this time as the undisputed number one guy, everybody will look to seal games and bring the gold back. Durant will have to deliver. Popovich, for certain, is glad to have KD on his team alongside other great names, so anything less than the gold medal will be a disappointment for the Americans. We can't wait for the start of the tournament.
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