Team USA has an international reputation of being the best. In the past, competitors have even stopped to get autographs from Team USA players after being defeated by them. That isn’t how things looked this year. The 2019 FIBA World Cup was expected to be a difficult challenge for Team USA due to injuries and star players not joining the roster this year. Still, no one thought the team would end up in 7th place. With a roster like Donovan Mitchell, Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Khris Middleton, Jayson Tatum, Brook Lopez and more, fans believed Team USA could get at least a top 3 finish. Team USA Coach Gregg Popovich recently spoke with ESPN about the critics who have shamed the squad for their defeat, and as usual Pop got straight to the point.
“Some people want to play the blame game. There’s no blame to be placed anywhere,” Popovich stated. “They want to play the shame game, like we should be ashamed because we didn’t win a gold medal? That’s a ridiculous attitude. It’s immature, it’s arrogant, and it shows that whoever thinks that doesn’t respect all the other teams in the world and doesn’t respect that these guys did the best they could.”
Team USA played with only nine players in their final match against Poland. Kemba Walker missed the game with a neck injury, Jayson Tatum injured his ankle and Marcus Smart hurt his leg. Tatum missed six of the eight games in the tournament, Smart missed three.