Team USA shines in first day of minicamp
LAS VEGAS – The USA Basketball Men's National Team opened its two-day minicamp in Las Vegas on Thursday.
Practice was scheduled from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., but Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich ended practice after one hour. He said was pleased with what he saw.
"I thought they were spectacular," Popovich said. "They were energetic from the beginning. Competitive, more competitive than I thought they wanted to be for this time in the summer. It's only two practices, today and tomorrow, so we wanted to read it and see what we were going to find. We found people that wanted to knock heads, compete and get up and down, so we did it."
Popovich, a 2004 USA Olympic assistant coach and San Antonio Spurs head coach, will serve as Team USA's head coach for the 2017-2020 quadrennium. His approach to minicamp is pretty simple.
"The main objective of this camp was to see relationships and camaraderie, bringing some new people in to blend in with the guys that have been here before and understand what kind of success has been accomplished over the past 12,13 years. And to let them understand what a privilege it is to play for your country, play for USA basketball, and by the effort they all gave today, you can see that they definitely want to be a part of it," Popovich said.
Thirty-five NBA players were invited to camp with the hopes of grabbing one of the 12 final roster spots, but some big names did not report for camp. Former Spurs star small forward Kahwi Leonard, Los Angles Lakers forward Lebron James, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul were among those not at the camp.
"Not at all," Popovich answered when asked if that bothered him. "People have lives, so we had a good number of people here. And the people who were invited and are not here have reasons, whether it's injury or personal things going on in their lives and we understand that."
Team USA will practice again Friday at the Mendenhall Center on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus.
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