Gregg Popovich Takes Exception to Reporter's Question After USA's Loss to Australia

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 13, 2021

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 12: Head Coach Gregg Popovich of the USA Men's National Team talks with Draymond Green #14 during the game against the Australia Men's National Team on July 12, 2021 at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Gregg Popovich took exception to a question during the postgame press conference following Team USA's 91-83 exhibition loss to Australia on Monday.

The legendary head coach appeared to disagree with the framing of a query about the wide gulf the United States used to have on many countries around the world:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

This exchange between Pop and a reporter after USA's loss to Australia 😳<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/JeffGSpursZone?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JeffGSpursZone</a>)<a href="https://t.co/zahi2nDElI">pic.twitter.com/zahi2nDElI</a>

There's no question the landscape has changed since the 1992 Dream Team won by an average of nearly 44 points at the Summer Games.

The quality of competition has risen in part because the NBA was so aggressive in growing the game internationally. The United States typically doesn't send its strongest possible squad, either, with some top names inevitably sitting out.

To Popovich's point, at the 2016 Olympics, Team USA won its group-stage games against Serbia and France by three points apiece. Only six points separated the U.S. and Spain in the semifinals. The United States did, however, blow out Argentina by 27 in the quarterfinals and beat Serbia by 30 in their championship rematch.

The 2019 FIBA World Cup was another reminder of how much the gap has closed on Team USA as it finished in seventh place after losing to France in the quarterfinals.

But that still doesn't totally explain how the United States could drop back-to-back exhibitions on the road to Tokyo.

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Professionals started playing for Team USA in 1992:<br><br>July 21, 1992-July 9, 2021: 10,581 days, 2 exhibition losses<br><br>July 10-July 12, 2021: 3 days, 2 exhibition losses <a href="https://t.co/nS7iGQ3KRl">pic.twitter.com/nS7iGQ3KRl</a>

One would think a roster that includes Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Draymond Green and Jayson Tatum is well-positioned to win gold. Nobody in the 2020 Olympics can match the sheer volume of talent on Team USA.

Perhaps falling to Nigeria and Australia is the kind of wake-up call the players will need to see that talent alone doesn't cut it anymore at the highest international level.