Team USA names Gregg Popovich head coach, effective 2017

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Mike Krzyzewski is resigning as Team USA coach after the 2016 Rio Olympics, and his successor is no surprise – Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

USA Basketball release:

The future leadership for the USA Basketball Men’s National Team was disclosed today when USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo officially announced that five-time NBA championship and longtime San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has been named head coach of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team for the 2017-20 quadrennium. Additionally, USA Basketball announced that Colangelo will continue in 2017-20 as Managing Director of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team and that current USA National Team head coach Mike Krzyzewski following the 2016 Rio Olympics will move into a special advisor role with Colangelo and the USA National Team for 2017-20. USA Basketball’s Board of Directors approved the three selections.

As head coach, Popovich will coach the USA National Team over the course of the 2017-20 quad, which could possibly include all USA Men’s National Team training camps, and if the USA qualifies, the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China (dates TBD) and the 2020 Summer Olympic Games (July 24-Aug. 9) in Tokyo, Japan.

“I’m extremely humbled and honored to have the opportunity to represent our country as the coach of the USA National Team,” said Popovich, a 1970 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. “What the program has accomplished over the last decade under the leadership of Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski is truly impressive. I will do my utmost to maintain the high standards of success, class and character established by Jerry, Coach K and the many players who have sacrificed their time on behalf of USA Basketball.”

The USA National Team currently owns a 63-game winning streak that dates back to 2006 and includes 45 consecutive victories in FIBA and FIBA Americas competitions and 18 consecutive exhibition wins. The USA men have won back-to-back Olympic gold medals (2008 and 2012) and back-to-back FIBA World Cup gold medals (2010 and 2014) for the first time ever.

“I’m absolutely delighted to announce Gregg Popovich as head coach of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team for 2017-20. There is no doubt in my mind that we have the great fortune of bringing on board one of the NBA’s best and most successful coaches ever to lead the USA National Team for the 2017-20 quadrennium. By making this decision now, it will allow us to have a clean, efficient and immediate transition following the 2016 Olympic Games,” said Colangelo, who has served as the Managing Director of USA Basketball Men’s National Team program since 2005 and has seen those teams compile a 75-1 record.

“Obviously this is an incredibly exciting step for the USA Basketball Men’s National Team program as we will transition following the 2016 Rio Olympics from one of the game’s greatest coaches in Mike Krzyzewski to another of basketball’s greatest coaches in Gregg Popovich. This progression plan will also help ensure that our National Team will continue to build on the culture and success we have achieved since launching the program.

“The USA Basketball Men’s National Team since 2005 has accomplished a number of remarkable things. We have established the United States as the world’s number one basketball country, and done so by showing the utmost respect for the sport and for all nations and players. Our players have been dedicated and committed to our gold medal standards and are positive ambassadors for the sport and for the United States. I’m confident that this will continue to be the case with Coach Popovich as our head coach.

“The 2017-20 quadrennium will be challenging with FIBA’s announced changes to its competition schedule and the new qualifying process for the World Cup and Olympics. With FIBA moving the FIBA World Cup to 2019, a year later than when it has been held in the past, we will need to reorganize how we prepare for our international competitions.

“Lastly, I am excited and looking forward to continuing to lead the USA National Team program in 2017-20 and along with everyone associated with USA Basketball, we are excited that Coach K has agreed to stay on as a special advisor for 2017-20. There’s no question that we will benefit from his vision and his experiences with USA Basketball and in international basketball.”

Since 2006, USA National Teams have compiled a spectacular 75-1 record and claimed top honors in five of six FIBA or FIBA Americas competitions. Just as importantly as the USA National Team’s success on the court, the duo also reestablished the USA National Team and its members as positive ambassadors for the United States and the sport.

“I am honored, and thrilled, to continue with USA Basketball in the role of special advisor. Since Jerry Colangelo invited me to play a larger part in the USA Basketball program in 2005, this experience has been so rewarding professionally and personally,” said Krzyzewski. “Some of the most exhilarating moments in my coaching career have occurred because of that association, so I am humbled to continue the affiliation with USA Basketball in this capacity. Until then, we have significant work to do to properly prepare our team for the challenges we’ll face in Rio at the 2016 Olympics.

“Gregg Popovich is the ideal choice to take over as head coach of the USA program. His long track record of success – both in terms of winning championships and creating a culture of excellence – are well documented and, rightfully so, he is considered among the very best coaches in the world. Because of his military background in which he selflessly served his country, coupled with his unique ability to bring out the best in his teams, this leadership appointment makes perfect sense. Undeniably, he will incorporate the highest of standards, which are unique to him, that will only enhance the USA Basketball program. I look forward to working with and learning from Gregg and Jerry Colangelo as they lead Team USA into the future.”

Popovich is an outstanding choice.

His peers recognize his excellence in all realms of coaching. An Air Force veteran, Popovich will respect the significance of this position.

I can’t imagine a better fit.

Good for Colangelo for announcing this now rather than letting other coaches campaign for the spot. USA Basketball has built a tremendous amount of unity in the program, and it appears this transition will be smooth.

Now, Colangelo can get to the much more difficult task of picking the 2016 Olympic roster.

Whether it’s Lakers or Heat, Kentucky is big winner

Anthony Davis
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Los Angeles Lakers primarily wear purple and gold. The main Miami Heat colors are red and black.

And these NBA Finals seem tinged in blue – Kentucky blue, to be precise.

No matter what happens in this title series, Kentucky’s list of NBA champions is sure to grow. Anthony Davis, Rajon Rondo and coach Frank Vogel have Kentucky ties from the Los Angeles Lakers’ side; Miami Heat players Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro played at Kentucky, as did Heat President Pat Riley.

“When I look at all these guys and how they’re playing, I’m not surprised that guys would be able to stand up to this,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said Tuesday. “The environment here, everything about it is preparing them for the NBA. It’s an NBA environment, how we practice, the competitiveness in practice, the games. Every shot matters here. … These kids, it’s kind of like their rookie year is here.”

Calipari coached Davis, Adebayo and Herro at Kentucky. He tried to coach Rondo, saying Tuesday that he nearly lured him onto the Dominican Republic’s national team – coached by Calipari – with hopes of qualifying for the Olympics.

Vogel was a manager and then video coordinator at Kentucky in the mid-1990s. Riley played at Kentucky for Adolph Rupp in the mid-1960s.

Kentucky is the fifth school to have four former players in a single NBA Finals, joining La Salle in 1956, UCLA in 1980, North Carolina in 1991 and Arizona in 2017. The top two scorers in the playoffs are almost certain to be former Kentucky standouts; Denver’s Jamal Murray currently holds the top spot with 504, and Davis is third with 432 — just five points behind Boston’s Jayson Tatum, a Duke product.

“Obviously, he coached in the league, so he knows what it takes to get there,” Davis said of Calipari. “I think that’s an advantage for all players who go to Kentucky. He’s able to get you ready in one, two years.”

It’s not lost on Heat coach Erik Spoelstra that the finals are going to be a Kentucky recruiting tool, and he also said that Riley isn’t shy about enjoying having players from his alma mater on the roster.

“We love Kentucky players because you’re there to get better, to be pushed, to understand what it means to play for a team, play a role and to train to become a pro at this level,” Spoelstra said. “You’re going to face good competition in practice. You’re going to be expected to work. It’s an environment that, as much as it possibly can, prepares you for the pros, even though it’s at the collegiate level.”

Miami’s Herro is likely to be the first player born in the 2000s to play in an NBA Finals game; he’s usually one of the first subs that the Heat use, so some first-quarter minutes for him on Wednesday night seem probable.

The 20-year-old is not the youngest player in the series, however.

Lakers rookie Talen Horton-Tucker doesn’t turn 20 until Nov. 25. He appeared in two games during the Western Conference semifinals but has been inactive for 12 of his team’s 15 postseason contests.

 

Kevin Durant admits he, Kyrie Irving “solidified” they were joining forces at All-Star Game

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Back in February of 2019, there was a video floating around of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving talking at the 2019 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte. It led to a lot of speculation the two were planning to team up as free agents.

Days after that video was shot, the growing speculation led then Celtic Irving to scold the media and shoot down the idea he and KD were talking about teaming up, saying, “It’s a video of me and one of my best friends talking. And then it turns out to be a dissection of a free-agency meeting?… That’s what disconnects me from all that s***.”

Turns out, talking about free agency was exactly what they were doing.

Durant admitted it on his new podcast, The ETC’s with Kevin Durant on The Boardroom.  Get to the 36-minute mark and Durant says:

“The All-Star game video where they caught us in the hallway. That’s when it was solidified that we were going somewhere. They didn’t know for a fact where it was, but it was somewhere.” 

That somewhere turned out to be Brooklyn.

The groundwork for Durant and Irving’s partnership started long before All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, Durant said.

“Like we would have these types of [basketball related] conversations all day, every day. And it grew from there. It just grew from there, it was organic, you know what I’m saying? And it wasn’t something that you can kind of pinpoint and say like, this was the moment. It just, it just happened.”

This is just going to fuel future conspiracy theorists — any time two players are talking at an All-Star Game (or in the bubble), someone will jump to a conclusion. Of course, 99.9% of the time the players are just talking about family or cars or where the Cheesecake Factory closest to their hotel Is located. But every once in a while the conspiracies are right.

This is just fuel for that fire.

 

New California law prompted by crash that killed Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant crash site
Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday approved legislation prompted by the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight other peopls that makes it a crime for first responders to take unauthorized photos of deceased people at the scene of an accident or crime.

Reports surfaced after the Jan. 26 crash that killed Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the others that graphic photos of the victims were being shared.

Eight deputies were accused of taking or sharing graphic photos of the scene, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said then, adding that he had ordered the images deleted. He said the department has a policy against taking and sharing crime scene photos, but it did not apply to accident scenes.

The measure that will take effect Jan. 1 makes it a misdemeanor with fines up to $1,000 per offense to take such photos for anything other than an official law enforcement purpose.

Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, has sued the department over the photos.

LeBron James calls bubble “the most challenging thing I’ve ever done” in NBA

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The NBA bubble has worn on players.

Paul George talked about the depression it brought on, saying he went to a “dark place.” Other teams just seemed to crumble under the weight of it when things got tight.

The strong-willed survival of all things bubble is why the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat start play in the NBA Finals on Wednesday. Just don’t think it’s been easy.

“It’s probably been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done as far as a professional, as far as committing to something and actually making it through,” LeBron said on Media Day Tuesday. “But I knew when I was coming what we were coming here for. I would be lying if I sat up here and knew that everything inside the bubble, the toll that it would take on your mind and your body and everything else, because it’s been extremely tough.

“But I’m here for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to compete for a championship. That was my mindset once I entered the bubble, once I entered the quarantine process the first two days. Then right from my first practice, my mindset was to — if I’m going to be here, make the most of it and see what you can do and lock in on what the main thing is. The main thing was for us to finish the season and compete for a championship.

“So that’s just been my mindset throughout these — I don’t even know how many days it is. However many days it is, it feels like five years. So it really doesn’t matter. I’ve been as locked in as I’ve ever been in my career.”

LeBron James has been a leader in every sense throughout the bubble. On the court, he took charge when it was needed to lift the Lakers organization back to the NBA Finals for the first time in a decade.

Off the court, he has been a consistent and loud voice for social justice — and he has put his money where his mouth is. That has made him a target of conservative talking heads, to which LeBron has largely shrugged. He’s thinking bigger picture, not their short-term distractions.

Right now, however, he’s thinking about winning NBA Finals.