USA Basketball Faces Questions After Early World Cup Departure
Team USA was knocked out of the FIBA World Cup today after losing 89-79 to France, and while many people wondered whether the "volume of stars declining invitations to play on this team would lead to a lesser finish," it is still a "stunning result," according to ESPN's Mike Greenberg ("Get Up," ESPN, 9/11). In N.Y., Marc Stein notes the loss "validated a summer's worth of fears" that Team USA was "vulnerable because of high-profile players declining to participate" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/11). ESPN's Matt Barrie said losing the World Cup was "something that I don't think anybody, even if they weren't paying attention, expected to happen." He said, "Team USA sometimes believes they can just roll out the ball with these NBA stars" ("SportsCenter," ESPN2, 9/11). The Athletic's Michael Lee wrote on Twitter, "Team USA loss to France was not a disgrace or an embarrassment or anything else you might hear today or for however long folks want to talk about it. … Don't send our best or 2nd best, this is what you get" (TWITTER.com, 9/11).
BEST OF THE REST? The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Ben Cohen writes the best American players "no longer seem interested in playing at a time when the rest of the world is only getting better." Team USA coach Gregg Popovich "took a junior-varsity Team USA to China." While most of the NBA's "mega-talents have played for their national team in the past, it has become trickier to convince players of their caliber" to compete. There is a "history of the U.S. tapping younger players and using the World Cup as a farm system for the Olympics," but this year's roster was "susceptible even by those standards" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/11). ESPN's Tom Thibodeau noted Team USA "had a lot of players that had pulled out," but that is "not unusual for a World Cup team" ("SportsCenter," ESPN2, 9/11). ESPN Radio's Dan Le Batard said, "Our greatest players don't want to play." ESPN Radio's Jon Weiner: "France didn't really beat the United States, they didn't beat our best. We all know if we put our best out there who the best country in basketball is" ("The Dan Le Batard Show," ESPN Radio, 9/11).
HELP WANTED: CBSSPORTS.com's Michael Kaskey-Blomain writes the U.S. will "clearly have to make some major tweaks to the roster before the Olympics get underway" next summer (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/11). THE ATHLETIC's Joe Vardon writes Team USA was "always going to be susceptible inside because of the makeup of their own roster." They "came into the tournament carrying Myles Turner, Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee as their bigs" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/11). SI.com's Chris Mannix tweeted this version of USA Basketball was "pieced together on the fly" and he is "interested to see who plays for the U.S. team" in Tokyo. ESPN's Jonathan Givony: "Just not clear if there's enough interest in the FIBA game here to get the biggest stars to play. ... Obviously roster construction and buildup has to be better." (TWITTER.com, 9/11).