Damian Lillard on USA's Loss: 'People Will Make It Seem Like the End of the World'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 25, 2021

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 25: Damian Lillard #6 of the USA Men's National Team drives against Team France at the Saitama Super Arena on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers and Team USA guard Damian Lillard isn't pressing the panic button following the United States' 83-76 loss to France at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo on Sunday.

According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, Lillard said the following after Team USA's disappointing defeat:

"I think we have a history of dominance and maybe not always blowing people out, but we have a history of winning. And it's not often that you see Team USA go out there and lose, especially to start.

"I think that's why a lot of people will make it seem like the end of the world, but our job as professionals and this team and representing our country at the Olympics, we've got to do what's necessary and we still can accomplish what we came here to accomplish."

As Lillard alluded to, the Americans can still win their fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal in men's basketball if they manage to bounce back from the loss to France during the remainder of group play and throughout the knockout round.

Still, the defeat was notable, as it was Team USA's first at the Olympics since falling to Argentina in 2004.

While the Americans trailed by six entering the fourth quarter Sunday, they quickly turned things around and held a seven-point lead with 3:41 remaining in the game.

But from there, Lillard, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker went cold from the field, and France went on a 14-0 run en route to victory.

Most Team USA players struggled offensively against France, as the U.S. shot just 36 percent from the field and 31 percent from beyond the arc.

Lillard had an especially tough game, going just 3-of-10 from the field and finishing with 11 points.

Team USA received worse-than-expected offensive production from several other key players as well, including Durant (10 points on 4-of-12 shooting), Booker (four points on 1-of-6 shooting) and Jayson Tatum (nine points on 3-of-9 shooting).

While several top players such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis opted against playing for Team USA, the Americans still entered the Olympics as heavy favorites to win gold again.

That is despite the fact that the U.S. lost exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia earlier this month.

Regarding Sunday's poor all-around performance, Lillard said: "We were just trying too hard to do the right thing. Instead of just being who we are—the best players in the NBA."

While Lillard is right in that many of the NBA's best players are on Team USA, it is clear that they don't yet possess the type of chemistry needed to win gold.

It isn't always easy for star players to accept lesser roles in the name of representing their country, although Team USA has managed to make it work in each of the past three Olympics after having to settle for bronze at the 2004 Games.

Lillard and Team USA will have an opportunity to move past the loss to France on Tuesday when they return to action against Iran.