Additional Quotes >> USA 101, China 70
Aug. 10, 2008 ? Beijing, China
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
On tonight?s game:
It was an honor for us to be in this game. I thought the Chinese team and our team both played extremely hard. I was proud of our effort. I thought that the attention we gave Yao early, he made some really good plays to get his teammates involved. And they hit 3?s. More than half their points in the first half were from 3?s. We were like 1-for-12 ? I think we ended up 1-for-15 before we starting hitting some 3?s. I was proud of our guys. I would hope that their coach would be proud of their kids. I thought both teams really responded at a high level to the magnitude of this game.
Have you ever been in a game this big?
Well, no one has ever been in a game like this because ? unless people turned off their TV sets before the game started, it?s supposed to be the most viewed game and that?s why I said it?s an honor to be involved ? to coach one of the teams in this game.
I thought our players treated it as such. We have great respect for the Chinese team and the Chinese people and I thought that was displayed in the effort that we showed. It showed a great deal of respect for the level of play and the country that China is.
There were more than 20 dunks, were your guys showing off?
There was no showing off. I mean, when you dunk, you have to dunk, they have three 7-footers. Yao would block it and did block a lot. I don?t know what your definition of showing off is. But, to me, that is hard basketball. We played very hard and we took it to the basket hard and we had to because they have a 7-5 or 7-6 guy there who is going to try to stop you. If you don?t go in hard, you?re not going to score. Don?t confuse hard with show off.
What did you do to get the players to kill their super egos?
I?m going to tell them that you said they have superegos. I don?t think our players would think that but they do think they?re very good players. Our players have been magnificent to work with. We have an expression in our country when you?re a really good team, you play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back of the jersey. Our guys are all playing for the name on the front of the jersey and that?s been easy for me. I haven?t had to destroy or kill anything.
Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets)
Was there anything you saw tonight that was different from 2004?
Just the crowd. The energy when we got into the building, when we got out on the court, to see how excited the fans were.
What was the atmosphere like tonight?
It was crazy. It was a great atmosphere. It was a great outcome. The fans were great. The arena was great. Everybody was energetic. We were excited.
China was excited. I?m pretty sure President Bush was excited. It was great.
Do you feel like you?re a part of history tonight with the Chinese and American presidents in the crowd sitting next to each other and cheering you on?
Oh yeah, we made history tonight. We can say that we were part of one of the biggest events in sports history. We can say that we were part of a game, part of the Olympics where presidents came to watch.
Has the President watched you play before?
Oh, I?m pretty sure he?s seen me on TV (laughs), but I?m talking about him watching me at the Olympics!
Can you talk about the contrast between your first game here and in Athens?
We lost by like 40 that first game, we were down the whole game. Puerto Rico had their fans out there but it was totally different this year. We had the Chinese fans with us, we had the USA fans with us and I?m pretty sure we had a couple of other countries out there cheering for us.
Why do you think that is?
I think basketball has become so global right now. They watch us day in and day out on TV and they can say that ?I?m a big fan of Carmelo Anthony or Kobe or LeBron, D-Wade.? And to see all of us out there on the court at the same time is exciting.
Do you think it signifies how you?re perceived also?
Yeah, four years ago we weren?t getting cheers from anybody but the little bit of people we had from the U.S. Now we don?t just have our people, we have China. We have different countries out there cheering for us.
What are some of the things you did well and not so well tonight?
My poor shooting of the basketball. Me and as a team, we can do better. In the first half I think we shot like 15 percent from the 3-point line or something like that. But games are going to happen like that. There are going to be nights where we don?t shoot the 3-point, but we?re gonna have to do everything to win the gold.
Carlos Boozer (Utah Jazz)
It looked like you guys were having fun out there?
Yeah, we do. We have a great time on the court and a great time off the court. We want to continue to get better. We?re not playing our best basketball and we?re going to continue to improve. We want to get ready for our next opponent, Angola, whoi is going to be excited to play us, too.
What do you know about Angola?
They?re a very athletic team. They pass the ball well. They?re going to give us a good run.
Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors)
On tonight?s game:
I think we played well. We came out a little tight. We knew it was going to be a very emotional game for both teams, especially China, playing in front of their home crowd. We withstood the storm, calmed down and played a lot better basketball.?
On Yao Ming?s play
Yao played a great game. What we were trying to ? we just wanted to wear him down a little bit. We knew that he is just now coming back from an injury and playing a fast paced basketball game was gonna kind of wear him down. So, we just wanted to do that. He?s a big guy in the middle. He did a great job defensively in the beginning of the game on stopping our pick and rolls and just kind of making our guards choose and shoot over him. Eventually, we wore down on him and did a pretty good job. I give credit to all our bigs.?
What was more special, playing in Olympic tournament or your president being here?
First to win the game. It?s always a special thing to come and represent your country in the Olympics. Just the pride of wearing the USA on our chest was just a thrill. The leader of our country there. It was pretty patriotic for us and for citizens all across the world who are United States citizens.?
Did we see the new Dream Team being born?
Not necessarily. We?re not trying to be the Dream Team. We just want to be a solid USA team. We want to be the best team in this tournament. The Dream Team was back in ?92.
We can?t try to compare to those guys because they?ve done so much more as individuals then we have. We just have to prepare for everyone ? not underestimate anyone ? Just play our basketball ? maybe everybody will make up a title after that. But for right now, we still have a long road ahead of us.
Did China have you worried?
That?s one thing we?ve worked on as a team. We can?t get worried and get too rattled in the beginning of the game by quick starts. We just have to play solid ? like I said before, work on wearing teams down. We just need to keep playing basketball because if we get too worried, we?re not going to play the way we?re capable of playing and that will be to the advantage of the other team. So, we just need to keep that in mind in games from here on out.
Was this the mother of all games?
It was definitely and exciting game to play in just with all the media attention. Just kicking it off for ourselves. We were excited just to play but to have all the extra attention is a great environment to be in, and I think this will really propel us into the rest of our competition.?
Are you confident you will win Olympic Games?
Yeah, we have confidence in ourselves. That?s the point of competing; that?s the point in having pride as a team. We know that there a lot of teams that are very tough here. It starts with us. We have to mentally prepare ourselves before every game. We have to not underestimate anyone. As long as we prepare and play our basketball and don?t beat ourselves, we are going to be in a great position.
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
How confident are you right now?
We feel good. We obviously feel like we can improve in several areas, but we?re happy with the way we played tonight.
What was the atmosphere like out there for you guys tonight?
I?ve never felt an environment quite like this. I?ve played in many big games, but the energy tonight was different. It was amazing. Look, I had five dunks in one game. That?s because of the crowd . The last time I had five dunks in a game, I think I was seventeen. That?s all because of the energy in this crowd. I think they knew that history was being made tonight.
Obviously it was a proud moment for the country. You could feel the electricity.
It was a different kind of energy. I am fortunate to have played in 4 NBA Finals and numerous big games, but it was like you felt there was so much more support, because it was USA. Obviously you could feel how proud the fans are of their country here in China. You just understood that it was bigger than the game. It wasn?t just a Finals game or a 7th game, it was bigger than that.
To hear the President say ?I?m here to support you, our country supports you. To hear that it really puts things into perspective. You look in the crowd and you see al the other USA athletes, you see them here supporting you and we go their events and we support them. I mean, it?s like a brotherhood.
What was it like having he president in the locker room before the game?
It was a great feeling. He basically came up to us and said I?m here to support you, our country supports you, so go out there and kick some butt.
Is it hard not to get ahead of yourselves in an atmosphere like that?
Trying to play a little too fast?
No, I think in the first half it was just a matter of us kind of settling down. I mean this is a moment we have been waiting for for three years. In the first half I felt they knocked down some good shots, we made some adjustments in the second half and we pulled away.
What do you think of Sun Yue?
I like Sun Yue a lot. I think he has a great deal of talent and when I get in camp I?ll get to put my hands on him on him a little bit more and toughen him up (laughter). Seriously, he has a great deal of talent.
Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic)
On the Olympic opener:
It didn?t feel that different. But once we got on the court, you notice a different atmosphere. We?re not playing in front of our home crowd. We had a lot of fun, it was a pretty good game.
Was the atmosphere and the crowd any different from an NBA game?
It was a little different. But it?s the first game, I?m glad we won. We came out a little slow. They came out with a lot of emotions, but we closed it out well.
On the team being well-received by all fans in attendance:
I didn?t expect it to be that hostile. This is like our second home. We had a lot of fun here playing.
Why is it like your second home?
I don?t know. I?ve been to China a number of times and every time I come I feel like I?m at home. It didn?t feel any different. It?s almost like a regular home game.
Even going against China in China?
We had a lot of American fans in the crowd. Also everybody loves basketball and we?re just happy to be involved in something as big as tonight.
Any nerves from playing in your first Olympic game?
No nerves, I just wanted to play. We wanted to play and I think we did a good job.
Did you think about this game being watched by the most people in the world, ever to see a basketball game?
I thought that was very special. To be a part of it, part of history with the most watched game ever. I had a lot of fun being a part of it and I?ll always remember this moment.
When you were on the bench were you able to soak it all up?
I really focused in on what we had to do on the court. But once the game was over I had a chance to look around and see all the people who support basketball.
LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
On finally beginning Olympic play after all the hard work the team has done since 2006:
This is something we?ve been waiting for. It took us awhile to finally get to this first game and for it to be against China, it made it that much better. The anticipation for this game was an all-time high. We were happy that we were able to play well and get a win.
Are you concerned with the USA?s 3-point shooting?
No, I?m not concerned. We just have to knock down shots. We had open looks and individually we?re not used to getting open looks like that. But we have to knock them down. It?s as simple as that. We did a better job in the second half. In the first half we rushed a few and didn?t knock them down.
On Yao Ming?s performance:
He did pretty well. For how much pressure that he has on his back to represent his country, to represent his team, he played extremely well.
Did you expect the crowd to be cheering for you like they were?
We didn?t know what to expect. We just knew that the fans were going to be very excited for the game of basketball. We didn?t think about the cheers, we just thought about coming out here and playing well.
Jason Kidd (Dallas Mavericks)
What did you think of the atmosphere tonight?
For China, you couldn't script it any better with Yao hitting a 3-pointer to start the game off. In that first half, we were a little excited, and we just needed to settle down. Once we came out after halftime, we starting playing better. That second quarter, actually, we started playing defense.
Could you describe how the USA was treated by the fans tonight?
It just shows the game of basketball, and how global it is and how big it is here. We were recieved just as well as China's team was. They wanted to see China play well and they did. They played well. We didn't show anybody up; we were respectful. We started to play a little defense there in the second quarter to open the game up.
What do you take from this game?
I think emotions were at an all-time high because of the magnitude and attention on this game, so I think we have a long ways to go. (We need) to work on our defense. We didn't shoot the ball extremely well from the free-throw line, or behind the arc, and so we have to work on that.
Do you see how big basketball is in China?
We have an understanding of how big basketball really is here in China. We see that when we go to different venues. We see it when we walk around in the athlete?s village. And we saw that here tonight. The people who have taught the game here, there the one?s who should get a lot of credit for the success that basketball has had.
Do you feel good about the game tonight?
Yes. We made the extra pass, we played defense when we had to. We have to figure out how to be consistent, but we don?t make too many mistakes on the defensive end.
We have heard that a billion people were watching this on tv tonight?
That?s all? (laughter). Well, I hope that nobody got embarrassed out there. It was great. A billon people. A sellout. Hopefully the people got their moneys worth, because I thought LeBron, Kobe and those guys put on a great show.
You started out slow, why?
We?ve been shooting the three alright and I think we were just a little excited. Emotions were high. It?s like you have Big Brown, the horse, I?m the jockey trying to hold him back and these guys broke the reins. It?s just that the emotions were so high, you try to suppress them and we missed some wide open shots Hopefully we come back the next game and knock those down.
Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets)
On the team concept ? everyone sharing the ball and playing together:
It?s not about one guy. It?s about us winning games one game at a time.
On the atmosphere in the arena:
It?s crazy. This is bigger than a playoff game. This is two countries playing against each other. The best of the best. All the anticipation leading up to the game ? this is three years coming.
It gets you ready to play. When the jump ball came there were a lot of emotions going through our heads. For the first couple minutes we were playing off emotions, but then we settled down and got going.
Does it look like Yao Ming is still working his way back from his injury?
I think so. This is a different game. This is international ball, it?s totally different from Yao playing with the Rockets. But Yao is Yao. He?s always going to be a dominant force and we tried to do a good job of containing him tonight. But no way is he where he?s going to be later in the season. He?s still working his way back.
What did you think of Yao hitting that 3-pointer to start the game?
It was the perfect storyline. Look at it: all the anticipation building up to the game, we turn it over, boom! Yao hits the first shot of the game, 3-nothing. I sat there like, man! I won?t ever forget that. But then we woke up and came back.
Was the crowd a little more hostile since you were playing China?
It?s always like that (as the visiting team), but China has done a great job of welcoming us and giving us great hospitality. At times we feel like we?re bigger here in China than we are in the United States and I think that?s a credit to ourselves, the NBA and everybody for how we?re treated when we come to China.
On tonight?s game:
I think we did very well. Of course we were running off of adrenaline and emotions to start the game off. But once we settled down we played our game. I think everyone expects us to come out and go up 10-0, 15-2, but what?s going to happen is that in the second, third, fourth quarter hopefully we can impose our will and wear the other teams down.
Everyone expects Tuesday night?s game (against Angola) to be the easiest of them all. What kind of mentality do you have to have?
We have to approach it just like this one. There are eight games. Eight games. We?re 1-0 right now. We just have to take it one at a time and approach Angola like they?re the best team here.
Tayshaun Prince (Detroit Pistons)
Coming off the bench
When you got guys that have been starters that have been starters all their life, and have an opportunity to come off the bench, it?s a difference. It?s funny because even when Michael Redd went into the game late in the second quarter, he?s out there two, two-and-half minutes, it was a tough adjustment that we were talking about. When you do get in there at that time ? it?s like a scenario like I always talk about in my first year in the league ? when you come off the bench and you?ve been sitting there for a while, the most important thing to take care of is defense and rebounding because it?s hard to come in the game right away and think you?re going to be able to score of find ways to make shots. You have to get in a rhythm first. Once you have an opportunity to get in a rhythm, Mike came back in the game again and got settled down a little bit, broke a sweat and then he started to knock down some shots. That kind of goes with every player.
Was this game similar in atmosphere to an NBA game?
No, it?s not similar. They don?t have the opportunity to see us all the time. When you have the opportunity to see the likes of Kobe and LeBron for the first time, that?s making their world. It?s a whole different ball game ? they asked me previously about as far as playing in the Finals and playing in the Olympics, as far as the atmosphere and what not .. it?s a totally different atmosphere because like I said, we?re playing for the United States of America. They don?t have the opportunity to watch us play in our country live. So for them to see that, the atmosphere was at a different level.?
Michael Redd (Milwaukee Bucks)
Was the atmosphere what you expected?
It was great. We were intense, they were intense. I don't know how many people watched, a couple billion probably, so it was amazing.
Did you meet President Bush?
We met right before the game. He came to support us, and told us to have a great game and he'd be watching.
What was that like?
Amazing. To meet the President? Amazing. We took a team picture with him and his wife.
From 16 to 16, that?s the stretch where we just broke loose and that was more impressive than anything and our defense picked it up. We have to continue to get better, continue to work on the things that we did wrong.
What do you say about tonight?
I had fun, especially after I had my first bucket. Playing in this atmosphere was teriffic.
Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)
With your injuries the past few years, what was it like for you out there tonight?
First of all, the atmosphere was unbelievable. Starting out when we came out for warm-ups, the crowd was crazy. It was great to be a part of the most watched basketball games in history. We enjoyed it.
You?ve played in All-Star Games and the Finals. How do you compare it with something like this?
This is big. I was anxious all night, you can?t go to sleep. We were restless all day.
China played a good game. This was an event.
Is there pressure on this team here? Trying to get back the Gold?
Of course there?s pressure. Everybody is looking at us. There?s nothing you can do about that. If we don?t win there?s going to be a lot to be said about it, but we want that pressure. You don?t become a professional athlete, a competitor, if you don?t like pressure. That?s pressure that we all signed up for. We have 7 more games and we have to take it one game at a time. Our next important game is Angola on Tuesday night.
How are you feeling?
I?m feeling great. I?m glad we finally played. It feels like we?ve been waiting forever to play our first game here. Running out on the court here, feeling the crowd roar when we came out, the emotions that were everywhere, we?re just glad to be a part of this game. China did a great job of playing very hard for their fans, too. I think the fans in China got a great show tonight.
Did you see President Bush in the stands?
We got an opportunity to see him before the game. He spoke to us before the game. It was great to see the leader of our country out here to support so many USA teams and to be out here tonight. It was great.
Deron Williams (Utah Jazz)
On the game:
Our defense needs to be there every night in case our offense isn't. Our offense wasn't really there in the first half, but defensively we were able to get some steals and get out in transition and run and make some easy baskets off of our defense.
The way he has been playing for us leading up to the Olympics and now this game, he's been amazing on both ends of the floor. He's our vocal leader, and he just brings lot of energy to both ends of the court and to our team.
Did the team get what it wanted out of this first game?
It was a good win. We won by 30 and struggled in the first half. So you have to be happy when we calmed down and finally got into sync in that second half and played a great game.
Reaction to the crowd?
They were great. They cheered for us as loud as they did for their country. The fans here have been great to us since we arrived and they are very special to us.
The atmosphere was great, it was amazing.
Early on did they have a bit of a home court advantage tonight?
They just came out hot, they were lights out from three and we had trouble a little bit defending the three point shooting in the first quarter. A lot of it was us being antsy, being anxious to get out on the court. Once we calmed down and settled down and started hitting shots from the perimeter, we were fine.
In the second half we tightened up our defense, we forced a lot of turnovers and made things difficult for them to run their offense and it?s something we have to do every game.