By Aris Barkas / firstname.lastname@example.org
Dongguan– Team USA coach and five-time NBA champion Gregg Popovich didn’t want to hear any discussion about the squad’s numerous absences, following the eliminating loss to France in the World Cup quarterfinals. A result that marked USA’s first defeat in an official game in 13 years.
“I think it’s a disrespectful notion,” Popovich said following a question to USA guard Donovan Mitchell on if he wanted to see some other NBA players at his side. “To even bring up something like that up: ‘Hey if you guys had this guy and had that guy’. That’s disrespectful to France or whoever else is in the tournament. France beat us. It doesn’t matter who is on the team. I couldn’t have been more proud of these 12 guys who sacrificed their summer to come here. Having never played together before. They put themselves in the arena and competed and they deserve credit for that. Just like France deserves credit for winning. It’s not about ‘well, the USA didn’t have their other guys’. There’s no such thing as ‘other guys’. These are the guys who are here. They did a great job and I’m very proud of them.
“If they didn’t come here, that’s on them, “Mitchell had replied. “On top of that guys, there are also those who didn’t make it they that want to compete too. I know how I feel and I know how those guys feel. Why don’t you focus on the ones who do that?
Our seasons have ended and we came right here for work with coach Pop and for all these other coaches. For us, it’s not about who is not here. We have 12 guys that wanted to compete for American, just like every other country.
“It sucks that some in our country some people don’t feel that way about us but we don’t care. We wanted to compete and we did.”
Popovich tipped his hat off to France for its balanced performance on both ends of the court. “Coach Collet and his group have done an outstanding job. It’s the best French team I’ve seen because they play on both ends on the court. It’s not about an offensive team that executes well. It’s not just a couple of guys on their own. They play at the defensive end. They are physical. They played well as a group. Switching, rebounding, weak side. They fit pretty well. They are deep. They were wonderful tonight.”