Depth and unselfish nature carry Team USA

admin   •   September 15, 2014   •   2677

Coach Mike Krzyewski (R) of the U.S. celebrates winning their Basketball World Cup final game against Serbia in Madrid September 14, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/SERGIO PEREZ

(Reuters) – A spate of late withdrawals, a serious injury to Paul George and several marquee names missing appeared to put Team USA under a cloud for the 2014 Basketball World Cup and for future international competition.

Instead, a group of sharp-shooting NBA regulars were unbeaten in Spain and produced a 129-92 victory over Serbia in the final to underline the depth the U.S. have at their disposal.

Stalwarts LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul were missing from the initial training camp, with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin bowing out late in the process before Indiana forward George broke his leg in training and could now miss the NBA season.

Instead, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson and Kenneth Faried, who along with dynamic guards Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving, were blended into a band of brothers by coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff.

Krzyzewski, however, did not see it as an onerous task to customise and then build a team for the competition.

“There’s always a different team,” he said of USA Basketball’s strategic plan to pick from an enlarged roster for international competitions.

“We had a different team in Beijing. We had 12 different players in Istanbul, we had five guys from the Olympics and five from the world championships in London.

“Here we have four guys who have been at least on one of the teams and the rest are new. That’s just what’s going to happen in our program.”

UNSELFISH NATURE

Bereft of iconic scorers, the team had to share the ball with Harden, the top U.S. scorer with an average of 14.2 points, the 18th best in the competition.

Thompson averaged 12.7, Faried 12.4 and Davis 12.3, while the backcourt of Irving and Curry contributed 12.1 and 10.7, respectively, for a well balanced, unselfish team that also shared minutes to stay fresh and aggressive.

The U.S. still averaged more than 104 points in an unbeaten 9-0 run to gold, topping the team scoring by more than 21 points per game.

Krzyzewski said they needed to be team focused given how competitive their opposition was – pointing to Olympic silver medallists Spain, who boasted NBA players Pau and Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Ricky Rubio yet did not make the semi-finals – to illustrate the point.

“We know how good everyone is,” he said after the final.

“I don’t think any gap has been widened. I don’t think there’s a gap.

“Spain is a magnificent team and it just takes one bad day, so what we’re trying to do is make sure we don’t have bad days.”

TUMULTUOUS RUN-UP

The team could have experienced bad days given their tumultuous run-up to the tournament, which had observers questioning the commitment of U.S. players to the World Cup, while even NBA Commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged that to Americans, the Olympics were far more important.

“There’s no question that the Olympics has been historically a bigger event,” Silver told reporters before an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden before they left for Spain.

After the sickening injury to George, which led to Durant dropping out, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban railed about risks taken by NBA teams in supplying players for events where the proceeds are pocketed by international organizations.

Silver acknowledged the debate would be renewed at the next NBA owners’ meetings.

“I do anticipate that it’ll be a hot topic at the competition meeting and at the Board of Governors meeting, just because it always has been,” said Silver.

Silver said that while stakes were high for the league, so were the benefits to players and to growing the game globally.

Silver stressed it was a personal decision for players, who under the current agreement can choose to play so long as there is not an injury concern by his NBA team.

“They come out better young men as a result of having participated in these events,” asserted Silver.

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

Vince Carter retires after NBA record 22-season career

UNTV News   •   June 26, 2020

Atlanta Hawks guard Vince Carter officially announced his retirement from professional basketball on Thursday (June 25) after an NBA record 22-season career during which his high-flying dunks made him one of the game’s top players in his prime.

Carter, widely regarded as one of the greatest dunkers of all time, had previously said the 2019-20 NBA campaign would be his last but had not addressed his playing status since the NBA suspended its season in mid-March due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I am officially done playing basketball professionally,” Carter, 43, told the “Winging It” podcast.

Carter, the first NBA player to feature in four different decades, signed a one-year deal with the Hawks last August.

However, their season is over as they did not qualify for the NBA’s 22-team format for restarting action in late July at Disney World amid the novel coronavirus.

Carter played for eight teams during his career but will be most remembered for his time with the Toronto Raptors, where he put the Canadian city on the basketball map and earned the nickname “Air Canada” for his feats above the rim.

After his first season in Toronto, Carter was named the NBA’s rookie of the year in 1999. He was then named an All-Star for each of the following eight seasons.

In his second season, Carter won the Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend with a dazzling display that further increased his stardom and helped ignite basketball’s popularity in what had otherwise been an ice hockey-mad country.

Carter, who ranks 22nd on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, averaged 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game during a career that also included stops in New Jersey, Orlando, Phoenix, Dallas, Memphis, Sacramento and Atlanta.

He also helped USA Basketball win gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2003 FIBA Americas tournament. (Reuters)

(Production; David Grip)

Pilot in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash may have become disoriented in heavy fog – NTSB

UNTV News   •   June 18, 2020

The pilot of a helicopter that crashed in foothills near Los Angeles, killing basketball great Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and all seven others on board, likely became disoriented in the fog, federal investigators said on Wednesday (June 17).

The National Transportation Safety Board report said pilot Ara Zobayan told air traffic controllers that his helicopter was climbing, when in fact it was descending shortly before slamming into a hillside outside the community of Calabasas on Jan. 26.

The NTSB said that pilots can become confused over an aircraft’s attitude and acceleration when they cannot see the sky or landscape around them, causing “spacial disorientation.”

“Without outside references or attention to the helicopter’s attitude display, the actual pitch and bank angles have the potential to be misperceived,” the NTSB said.

The findings came in a “public docket” released by the NTSB as it investigates the crash. The agency has not yet released its final report. (Reuters)

(Production: Omar Younis)

League approves plan to resume NBA season in July at Disney World

UNTV News   •   June 5, 2020

REUTERS – The National Basketball Association (NBA) Board of Governors have approved a plan to restart the suspended season with a tentative July 31 start at Disney World, Florida amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the league said on Thursday (June 4).

The plan would see 22 of the NBA’s 30 teams play eight games to determine a 16-team playoff field that would follow the traditional post-season format with four best-of-seven series that would crown a champion no later than October 12.

The league said approval from its Board of Governors, which came on the day originally scheduled for the start of the NBA Finals, is the first formal step among the many required to resume the season.

According to ESPN, the vote on the format was 29-1, with the Portland Trail Blazes voting against the proposal.

All games, practices and housing would be at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex which is inside the Orlando resort and has multiple hotels and arenas, and would allow the league to limit outside exposure.

The NBA was the first North American sports league to suspend its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic after one of its players tested positive for the new coronavirus in mid-March.

The 22 returning teams would be comprised of the eight teams from each of the two conferences currently in playoff positions plus the six clubs that are six games or fewer behind the eighth seed in their respective conferences.

If everything goes according to plan, the NBA said the 2020-21 season would begin on Dec. 1.

The league also said it plans to hold its 2020 NBA Draft Lottery to determine the order of the first 14 selections on Aug. 25. Lottery teams would be comprised of the eight clubs that do not participate in the restart and the six that go to Florida but do not qualify for the playoffs.

The actual NBA Draft, typically held in June, is now scheduled for Oct. 15.

(Production: Kurt Michael Hall)

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