Over the past decade, many players have used a summer playing with USA Basketball as a springboard to their most successful NBA season. Carmelo Anthony’s excellent 2008-09 effort comes to mind, as does Derrick Rose’s breathtaking MVP campaign and LeBron James’ historic 2012-13 season. There’s just something about wearing the red, white, and blue that often brings out the best in basketball’s stars over the following year.
Is it the additional dose of conditioning gleaned from an offseason prepping and playing for Olympic and FIBA stakes? Somewhat, at least. Are players inspired by getting to share the floor with those of a similarly esteemed caliber? Probably. What about the influence of being around legends like Mike Krzyzewski, Gregg Popovich, and Kobe Bryant? That definitely has something to do with it.
But maybe more than anything else, it’s the sense of camaraderie evident in all iterations of Team USA that has the biggest impact on its players. There’s nothing quite like practicing, traveling, and playing games while representing the country. That feeling just can’t be duplicated. We were afforded a rare glimpse into the type of moment that helps the Americans forge those bonds at Monday’s shootaround, when DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, and Klay Thompson were caught on camera mocking Draymond Green’s NSFW SnapChat photo.
It’s good to see that the national team is feeling footloose and fancy free heading into Rio later this week. Even better – for him, at least – is that Cousins is apparently among the small minority who hasn’t seen his teammate’s “hacked” pic.