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“I’ve never been so angry.” The U.S. lost a superstar before the Olympics, but surprised with a replacement

Date: July 18, 2024 Time: 09:53:34

Before the friendly match against the Canadian national team, not the best news came from the US national team camp: Los Angeles Clippers and NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard will not be participating in the 2024 Olympics. The team management immediately had to find a replacement for the player.

Friendly matches (national teams) – 2024. Friendly matches

Thursday, July 11, 2024. 05:30 Moscow time

United States: Edwards – 13, Curry – 12, Holiday – 11, Davis – 10, Booker – 9, Tatum – 8, James – 7, Adebayo – 6, Embiid – 5, Potter – 3, Haliburton – 2, Galloway, Hayes

Canada: Barrett – 12, Gilgeous-Alexander – 10, Brooks – 10, Olynyk – 9, Birch – 7, Alexander-Walker – 5, Murray – 5, Kabengele – 4, Lyles – 4, Scrubb – 4, Powell – 2, Dort, Nembard, Scrubb, Ejim

Initially, no reason was given for why Leonard would not play in the 2024 Olympics, but then the Los Angeles Times, citing its sources, reported that Kawhi would not play in the Olympics due to a right knee injury. Concerns about the injury arose after Team USA general manager Grant Hill, American head coach Steve Kerr and Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank watched the Terminator train for several days.

Hill ultimately commented on the decision to replace Kawhi as follows: “We just felt like we needed to change course and without getting into the details of what the decision entailed, we felt like it was in the best interest of us as well as in the best interest of everyone. The Clippers and Kawhi are moving in a different direction. We tried. We all tried, we made an effort, but unfortunately both sides still need to move forward.” Grant was later asked directly about whose decision it was to remove the two-time NBA champion from the roster. “We did. As a result, he was sent home, but we negotiated with the Clippers on that,” Hill said.

Stephen Smith

journalist and expert at ESPN

“I’ve never been so mad at someone wearing a Team USA uniform. Remember how happy I was when Grant Hill handed me the national team jersey? Do you know how many games you missed talking about playing in the summer? You’ll get hurt on the flight to Paris. In Steve Ballmer’s place [владельца «Клипперс»] I would use every means available to prevent this person from making the U.S. team. And there is only one reason for this: I am not sure he will return healthy. I understand what Team USA is all about. I understand what nostalgia, patriotism and an international tournament is. I understand all of that, but damn it, you renew your contract, but you are never there when you need it.”

Kawhi, 33, had not competed for the United States in any major international tournaments and seemed eager to win Olympic gold. But, as usual, injuries intervened. Leonard is one of the best two-way players in the NBA, if not the best, but on one condition! We are only talking about a healthy forward and we have seen him like this very rarely in recent years. The United States needed to find a replacement for the Clippers star. The first person who comes to mind is last season’s NBA Finals MVP: Jaylen Brown, who helped Boston win its first championship since 2008.

You might also think that they might give a chance to 17-year-old Cooper Flagg, who has not yet played a single official college basketball game, but has already lit up the US national team’s training camp. His play was highlighted by LeBron James and Leonard. We know examples of how the Americans included very young basketball players who had not yet played in the NBA. For example, the 1992 Dream Team had a mind-blowing lineup consisting of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler, John Stockton, Chris Mullin, Clyde Drexler. NBA legends and a guy unknown to the general public – Christian Laettner.

The young talent is no worse than some NBA stars:

How a 17-year-old student almost caused a sensation against the US team on the eve of the Olympics

There was also Anthony Davis, who went to the 2012 Olympics without playing a single NBA game. But Grant Hill, along with other officials of the national team, decided not to experiment this time and chose a substitute from the champion Boston. Bra… Derrick White will go to the Games from France! Yes, that’s the decision that the American team made. The Celtic defender has been an integral part of the club for the second season in a row. By the way, White twice ranked among the top five symbolic defenders in the NBA. Derrick’s leap in play is visible to the naked eye, and in the 2024 playoffs he was very consistent and was the team’s best three-point specialist – 40.4% of shots from behind the arc.

Brown was probably taken to the US national team due to the fact that he can steal the spotlight from the team’s main stars – LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant. This trio had a chance to shine. They have never competed together in an international tournament, and besides, these are probably the last Olympics for each of them, as Durant is already 35, Curry is 36, and LeBron is 39. Therefore, the decision was made to take someone who could just quietly do my job – shoot three-pointers and work on defense.

Derrick Blanco

Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

Curry, a four-time NBA champion, summed up substituting Leonard for White: “Kawhi gave everything he had when it came to preparing for these three days at training camp. There was a conversation between Team USA management and Kawhi’s circle just to make sure he was set up for success. Obviously it was a tough decision. I know he wanted to play, but this is one of those times where you wish us luck in achieving our goal. What a support from our guy. Hopefully he’s in a good position long-term because the game needs it and when he’s not on the court you miss one of the greatest players of all time. Hopefully he’ll be ready for the season.”

It’s a shame that we won’t see Kawhi play at the Olympics, but health is of course more important than anything else. The US team, without Leonard in the lineup, beat Canada 86:72. The Maple Leafs are also preparing for the most important international tournament held every four years. Canada’s roster includes top NBA players: Shea Gilgeous-Alexander, Jamal Murray, RJ Barrett, Dillon Brooks, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Luguentz Dort and Andrew Nembard. So the US clearly went through tough times. Anthony Edwards led the way with 13 points, three rebounds and one assist. Ant has previously said that he is the first choice in the national team. So far I have been able to answer my words, but what will happen at the Olympics is a completely different question.

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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