Over a period from 1992 through 2019, the men’s USA Basketball team won 54 out of 56 exhibition games while deploying NBA players. On Monday evening, Team USA lost its second exhibition game in three days, following up a shocking loss to Nigeria with a close-fought defeat at the hands of Australia. In the aftermath, many were quick to lament the team’s recent play but, in the post-game press conference, Team USA and San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich had a relatively heated exchange with a reporter over whether the United States had a history of blowing out opponents in this setting.
Gregg Popovich got into a heated exchange with a reporter after Team USA's loss to Australia pic.twitter.com/P3VZc7Lbs6
— NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston) July 13, 2021
The specifics of the disagreement may be a bit fuzzy, but Popovich and the reporter, Joe Vardon of The Athletic, clearly don’t see eye to eye in this instance. Popovich dug his heels in by insisting blowouts are less frequent at the highest levels of international competition, while Vardon was seemingly focusing on the United States’ lofty average margin of victory when using NBA players.
As a result, the exchange was certainly tense, with Popovich insisting that he finish his statement and Vardon continue to interject. This certainly isn’t the first time that Popovich has had a viral-level moment in an exchange with a media member, but the frustration of back-to-back losses may be boiling over in advance of Team USA heading to Tokyo for the Olympics. On the floor, the United States can take solace in having the most talented roster, but the early returns are not particularly strong, and many will be asking whether Popovich, his staff and this particular group of high-level players can right the ship.