“This is really different than the NBA. This is the best. This is getting the NBA players without agents, without anybody else telling them what they should do, with them willing to do exactly what we have to do to win. So it’s really not coaching in the NBA. It’s not even close. We know that. This is fantasy world.”
—Team USA assistant coach (and Syracuse head coach) Jim Boeheim on coaching USA Basketball vs. NBA. Via ESPN.
There are agendas around Team USA — hello Nike! — but since Mike Krzyzewski has come on as coach USA Basketball has done a fantastic job of getting elite NBA players to come to them and accept a role. The most obvious was when Kobe went to Coach K in 2008 before Beijing and said he simply wanted to be their defensive stopper. All-Star players are willing to come off the bench (and in some cases barely play) to be part of something bigger than themselves. To sacrifice minutes and numbers for gold. Things many would not and have not done during an NBA season.
The coaches know how lucky they are. And these players know they will go back to being “the man” in the NBA. But for a month or so, it is a fantasy world.