Gregg Popovich Takes Exception to Reporter's Question After USA's Loss to AustraliaJuly 13, 2021
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:
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.
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.