What’s up, y’all?
It’s been a minute but I wanted to check in from Shanghai.
I was thrilled when I got the invite to the USA camp in Vegas and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. I’ve heard everyone talking about why not to do it and with all the dropouts you would have thought it was the first week of AP chemistry. This is a unique opportunity and I believe in these moments and experiences for a lot of reasons.
First, whether you’re in China, Australia, NYC or Denver, you’re going to be in the gym getting ready for training camp anyway. Why not play in a competitive environment and practice with up and coming stars of our game instead of playing pick up with occasional defense and less than occasional ball movement? After my 2014 Team USA experience, I learned it makes for a smoother transition back to the reality of your team when you don’t get to take ten dribbles and shoot it whenever you want.
Second, this staff is A1, and as a basketball junkie you put this experience in your scrapbook. I may not get to play for Pop or Kerr or get Jeff Van Gundy’s insight at any other point in my career. The same could be said for playing with a lot of my teammates, all of whom have been great to get to know and travel with.
Finally, I know a lot of people looked at this from the perspective of what there is to lose. The reality is that we’re not defending anything — the gold is out there to go get. This group hasn’t won anything together and to be a part of a new journey, to represent our country and be part of a gold medal chase is something that I wanted. It’s an honor.
Plus, I love to travel. Vegas and LA were good for us but the team bonding changes when you go overseas. Pop knows how to pick a restaurant and somehow these Boston guys do, too. Australia was a first for me; I could go back to Melbourne or Sydney any day.
The 50,000 people at our game was unlike anything I had seen outside of a Final Four.
A lot was made about our loss, but exhibition season is over and pool play starts here in Shanghai. Looking forward, we like where we’re at. Tune in — we are going to rep the country right and make people proud.
Big thanks to USAB for letting us bring friends and family on the trip. It’s a lot to be away for a month and a half.
Also BIG congrats to my little brother, Marshall, who just graduated Ranger School down at Fort Benning. It’s one thing to represent the USA as a basketball player. It’s another to serve selflessly and defend our country as a soldier. We are proud of you, Marshall.