By: Ishon Sivansh
After many notable NBA stars opted to leave Team USA before its title defense in the 17th FIBA World Cup in Spain, many sportswriters cast doubts about the status of the U.S. National Team. NBA All-Stars LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, and Kevin Durant decided to take time off of Team USA to either recover from injury or to focus on their pending free agent or trade status. Paul George was horrifically injured in a Team USA scrimmage in Las Vegas and will likely miss the next NBA season. The mass exodus of NBA stars from the team seemed to spell doom for the team when they played the Brazilian National Team in an exhibition match before the World Cup.
The match took place in front of a passionate Chicago crowd at the United Center. Fans delivered deafening cheers for Chicago natives Derrick Rose and Anthony Davis. It was Rose’s first time playing in the United Center since his season ending injury in 2013. Although Rose received a bulk of the applause, he only scored 7 points, while teammate Anthony Davis led Team USA with 20 points. The game started at an even pace but Team USA took a double digit lead late in the first quarter and never looked back, finishing the game 95-78.
However, team USA’s status in the upcoming FIBA World Cup is not set in stone and a gold is not guaranteed. Coach Mike Krzyzewski admits “We’ve had a lot of interruptions.” The loss of so many of the NBA’s superstars has not gone unnoticed. However he had no shortage of praise for his current group of young players. He says, “The one thing that hasn’t been interrupted has been effort. Our guys have played hard in every practice. They’re a really good group.” Team USA showed how well they played against Brazil, but they will have one more road bump: they still have to cut 4 more players to shorten the 16 players to a 12 man roster.