words // Brandon Richard
Tonight, the USA Men’s Basketball Team will take the court at Manchester Stadium for an Olympic tune-up against the national team from Great Britain. The Americans are undefeated in exhibition play thus far, picking up wins against the Dominican Republic in Las Vegas and Brazil in Washington D.C. After a close call against Brazil, USA looks to rebound strong against the home team as Opening Ceremony for London 2012 nears.
If you’re looking to celebrate the team’s quest for gold, you can grab one of the new Nike USA Basketball Replica Jerseys today. The jersey features 3D structured DriFIT fabrication that will wick sweat away from the skin to keep you dry and comfortable while reducing the clinging caused by sweat. Bold USA-inspired Aerographics on the back not enhance the overall look of the jersey, but also offer lightweight ventilation. The sleeveless silhouette allows for full mobility, while the V-neck creates a non-restricting fit around the neck. Hem vents also enhance mobility and comfort.
We have the Nike basketball jerseys of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook available for you to pick up now.
words // Brandon Richard
Just like 20 years ago, the NBA’s best players came together in Las Vegas yesterday to begin USA Basketball’s latest run toward Olympic Gold. A field of 15 finalists, including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, will be trimmed down to the max roster size of 12 before the team’s first exhibition against the Dominican Republic on Thursday. Though Rose, Howard, Wade and Bosh are all sitting out with injuries, it’s safe to assume Coach K and crew will select a formidable group worthy of repeating.
While we wait to see who makes the cut, photos from the team’s first practice gives us the perfect opportunity to check out the kicks we can expect to see hit the hardwood in London. The Nike-dominated group is headlined by the newly released Lunar Hyperdunk, which was even spotted on the feet of Finals MVP LeBron James. Kobe, Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul each rocked “USA” colorways of their most recent signature models, while “Mr. Why Not?” Russell Westbrook debuted the “USA” colorway of the upcoming Hyperfuse 2012. The lone adidas wolf in the pack was sharpshooter Eric Gordon, who laced up the “USA” adiZero Crazy Light 2.
We’ll find out who will wear the red, white and blue when the selection show airs tonight at 7:00 p.m. on NBA TV. While you wait, take a look at the kicks worn in yesterday’s practice.
images via ESPN
Chris Paul changes from the “Olympic” Air Jordan Retro 7 to the “USA” Jordan CP3.V.
What does Kevin Durant have in his USA Basketball Nike backpack?
Rookie Anthony Davis and Carmelo Anthony participate in warm-ups wearing the “USA” Nike Lunar Hyperdunk and “USA” Jordan Melo M8, respectively.
LeBron takes it to the cup in the “USA” Nike Lunar Hyperdunk.
Elder statesman Kobe Bryant rocks the ’92 Jordan goatee and “USA” Nike Zoom Kobe VII.
Kevin Durant dials up from long distance in the “USA” Nike Zoom KD IV.
Blake Griffin runs some drills in the “USA” Nike Lunar Hyperdunk.
Russell Westbrook drives in the “USA” Nike Zoom Hyperfuse 2012.
Kyrie Irving checks Kobe in a PE colorway of the Nike Hyperdunk 2011. Apparently he didn’t get the red, white and blue memo.
Defensive anchor Tyson Chandler sets his feet in the “USA” Nike Lunar Hyperdunk.
Klay Thompson squares off against the Mamba in the Nike Zoom Hyperenforcer.
USA Basketball’s three-headed monster ready to pounce on London.
words // Brandon Richard
After the NBA crowns a brand new world champion within the next two weeks, the league’s top players will turn their attention toward London, home of this summer’s 2012 Olympic Games. Players will be suiting up in the familiar colors of Old Glory in attempt to defend the Gold Medal claimed by the “Redeem Team” in Beijing four years ago. The team is expected to be one of the most talented ever assembled, led by the game’s two biggest stars – Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
In preparation for London, Nike has released USA Basketball colorways on the Nike Kobe VII and Air Max LeBron 9 Low. Each shoe sports a clean white base, with obsidian, red and platinum accenting each look throughout. The Kobe VII also features a unique Nike Basketball logo on the heel.
Both Kobe and LeBron’s Olympic Nike basketball shoes are available at Eastbay starting today.
The United States Men’s National Basketball Team went into the 2010 FIBA World Championship with two big obstacles to overcome – their lack of size and lack of experience. So it seemed as if having to play one of the tallest teams in the tournament on their floor in front of a building filled with 15,000 rowdy fans to win the gold medal could prove to be a little too overwhelming for the young Americans. However, just the opposite occurred, as a gutsy and poised effort from Team USA resulted in a 81-64 victory, and the team’s first World Championship since 1994.
Once again, the story of the game was the play of Kevin Durant. Continuing where he left off in the semi-finals against Lithuania, Durant got the U.S. off to a hot start by knocking down his first three shots and scoring eight of the team’s first 12 points. Turkey’s Hedo Turkoglu responded in a big way, going on a 8-2 personal scoring run to hand the Turks a 15-14 advantage with a little more than four minutes to play in the period. The United States then turned up the defensive intensity, holding Turkey to just one basket in the remaining minutes for a 22-17 lead at the end of the quarter.
Russell Westbrook, who proved to be a spark plug throughout the tournament, started the second quarter off by successfully converting a three-point play. After the United States’ offense stalled, going without a point for a three-minute stretch in the frame, Durant once again showed why he was the best player in the tournament. The scoring machine rolled off nine straight points, including two three-pointers to push the lead to 10 points, which held up at half-time.
The proverbial sports dagger was placed in the hearts of the Turkish collective when, who else but Kevin Durant, knocked down two straight shots from downtown to start the second half. Durant then gestured to the crowd, letting them know that he had no intention of leaving the building without a championship. From there, the Turks were never able to cut the lead down to single digits, and a continued spirited defensive effort in the fourth quarter sealed the deal.
With the win, the United States ends a 16-year drought at the FIBA World Championship. The successful tournament run is the result of long-term plan put in place by USA Basketball Director Jerry Colangelo and Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Krzyzewski earned his first World Championship after his previous two appearances ended in bronze medals.
In the future, this tournament may very well be remembered as the foundation of a legendary career for Kevin Durant. While players like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were already established superstars prior to having success on the international stage, Durant was just on the cusp after a tremendous NBA season that saw him become the youngest player to ever win a scoring title. Now, with his success in Istanbul, Durant appears to be on his way to becoming a household name. The pressure was put on his shoulders, and he responded like the great players do – with a championship. Durant’s play also made him the obvious recipient of the Naismith Trophy for tournament MVP.
Also not to be forgotten are the unsung heroes of the tournament: the scrappy defense of Russell Westbrook, the efficient production of Kevin love, the rebounding and fast-break ignition of Lamar Odom, and the sharpshooting of Eric Gordon. The truth is, everybody on this team deserves glory for what happened in Turkey. A player like Danny Granger, who scores 25 to 30 points a night for the Indiana Pacers, was simply a role player for Team USA in Istanbul. The way he handled his role on the team is an example of the kind of spirit that enabled the 12 men who made the trip to come home with the hardware.
Now the wait begins for an all-new NBA season, which tips off on October 26th. Be sure to keep checking Eastbay for more basketball coverage.
images via Yahoo
Prior to the quarterfinal matchup between the United States and Russia, head coaches Mike Krzyzewski and David Blatt exchanged some less-than-friendly words through the media. The source of the mini war-of-words? A disagreement over whether or not controversy marred the 1972 Munich Olympic Gold Medal Final between the same two teams. While the verbal exchanges were making headlines prior to the game, both coaches had their teams prepared for an opportunity to move onto the semifinals of the 2010 FIBA World Championship. In the end, it was Coach Krzyzewski left with the upper hand, as his team pulled away to beat Russia 89-79.
The game was as physical and well-contested as it was expected to be. An early seven points from Kevin Durant helped the United States jump out to a quick 15-9 advantage, but a big quarter by New York Knick Timofey Mozgov helped Russia keep it close. A 7-0 run from the Russians gave them a three-point lead with a little over a minute to play in the frame. Scoring from Durant and Stephen Curry helped the U.S. even things up at 25 after the first quarter.
Russia assumed control of the game early in the second quarter. During the first five minutes, Russia outscored the United States 10-5 to take a 35-30 lead. After a timeout, the United States countered with a 12-0 run of their own led by big plays from Andre Iguodala and Derrick Rose. Exchanging a few more buckets with the remaining time in the half, Team USA emerged with a slim 44-39 advantage.
The competitive level of play was maintained through the first half of the third quarter. With about six minutes left to play in the period, the United States had only managed to increase their lead by a single point, holding on to a 53-47 lead. Then, Russell Westbrook took over. Sometimes criticized for his one-speed, seemingly out-of-control style of play, Westbrook cranked up the effort on defense, forcing multiple turnovers that resulted in easy fast-break points. Additional offensive contributions from Chauncey Billups and Lamar Odom helped the United States build a 70-56 lead at the quarter.
Though Russia refused to roll over and let the United States coast to a lopsided victory, they simply had no answer for Kevin Durant. The heralded shooter collected 10 of his overall 33 points in the fourth quarter to shut the door on the victory. After leading by as many as 18 points, Team USA took their foot off the gas just a little toward the end to advance to the semifinals with a 10-point victory over Russia.
Thursday’s win moves the United States into a semifinals matchup with Lithuania. Lithuania, who advanced with a somewhat shocking blowout win over Argentina, suffered a defeat to the U.S. by a 16-point margin in a warm-up game in August. What some may not remember about that game is that Lithuania led 29-28 at halftime after the U.S. shot just 29 percent from the field. The U.S. men certainly don’t want to have to overcome that kind of start once against Turkey.
Watch the United States take on Lithuania at 12 p.m. EST tomorrow.
images via USA Basketball