Additional Quotes >> USA 84, Turkey 61
Sept. 12, 2010 • Istanbul, Turkey
USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo
We talked the other day. Now the goal is reached. Your thoughts?
Well, you know, climbing the hill and accomplishing our goal of not only being able to compete but win it, there's another moment of a lifetime. That's another moment of fulfillment. It's a great tribute to the program, the people who are involved in this program, the coaching staff, Coach K's leadership, the players who committed themselves in giving of their time. They were totally focused throughout that process. Without that focus, I don't think we would have had the success we did.
We didn't have an identification. They were called the 'B Team'. I think that's over with. I think they established who they are. Kevin Durant, welcome to the international stage in terms of your ability as a player. That was great for him because he's such a terrific young man.
So a great job by everyone involved. It's great for our program. We go from here.
Were you surprised that this team was able to come together as quickly as they did, being so young?
You never know with a young group because of the inexperience. You know, there's a certain maturity and presence with these individuals. Collectively, they liked each other. I think I mentioned early on, this is a low‑maintenance group, and they absolutely were. Because of that, they were receptive, they listened, practicing accordingly, and followed a game plan. Again, they did a fantastic job.
Talk about your captains:
I think the leadership we got from our veterans, some of which doesn't even show on the box score, it's a leadership off the court, it's a leadership in the locker room, it's over a meal. But everyone being together, the young players did look to Lamar Odom, did look to Chauncey Billups for that leadership. And Tyson Chandler also. Everyone had a role. The young guys responded to everyone who came in their path.
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
How does it feel?
This is the best. This is the best. With this group, they really have represented our country, USA Basketball so well. Such a young group. They played with enthusiasm. They played great defense throughout.
Not much was expected. I shouldn't say that. They're always expecting a lot. But most people didn't think we could win. But they kept getting better. Our defense was terrific. The two veterans, Odom was sensational tonight. Iguodala over the last two games, his defense, on two of the best players in the tournament, (indiscernible) and Turkoglu, was really good.
We had such big bench contributions. I'm just so happy, so fulfilled. This is as good as it gets right now.
Was it a better experience because of the crowd and playing in Turkey?
All the guys would rather play in an environment that gives you energy. You don't want to play in an environment that doesn't give you energy.
And they're respectful. You know, the Turkish fans cheer for their team, so they create a great atmosphere. So it's not like they're cheering against you; they're cheering for their team, which helps them.
We got 18 up, then their crowd came alive, and it got down to 11. That's the type of thing we had to fight tonight. We were up against a sixth man tonight, too, but not a negative sixth man, a spirited one.
I want to congratulate the Turkish team on a truly fabulous tournament. They epitomized what a team should be. We played a great game tonight or else we would not have been able to beat them. It was a terrific tournament, a truly wonderful city. We felt like we made great friends. I've never seen, Coach (Bogdan Tanjevic), a country celebrate its team better than your country has celebrated the team. Every time I turn on the TV set, there's these happy commercials, you know, of you with the team, the Turkish people. It was wonderful. I thought it created a great atmosphere for the tournament. It was wonderful just to see that, really. I've never seen that anywhere like you all did it here.
Coach, Olympic champion, World champion, which one is more tasteful for you?
A national champion in college. I am a very lucky guy to have great players. This championship meant a lot because we had a very young team. It just meant a lot to all of us. So this was a very special thing.
We haven't won the World Championship since 1994. We as a country are trying to show great respect for the World Championships, which I'm not sure that we did maybe a decade ago. So to win it - and we know how important it is - means a great deal. It's twice as big as the Olympics in teams. But the Olympics are pretty good, too.
USA has the Olympics and now the World Championship. Can you comment on USA Basketball's domination.
I am not sure we have dominance. Did you see the end of our Brazil game? We had a tough game tonight. I don't think we dominated the game. We played a little bit better than Turkey. What we've tried to do under the direction of Jerry Colangelo, and he's given me the opportunity to coach with a great staff, is to build a culture that understands the international game, studies it, respects it, loves it, and tries to then coach a team that would be representative on the international stage at the level that our country should have a team doing that.
We've been fortunate enough to win the last two competitions in the Olympics and the World Championships.
But I love the international game. There are so many great coaches and great teams. I had to learn that. It's made me a better coach, you know, coaching against great coaches from other countries and great players. It helps. Have I used the word 'great' enough?
I feel pretty happy. We'll continue to do that. Our goal is to try to win a gold medal, but also always try to earn the respect of the people of the world in how we play and how we conduct ourselves. If we don't do that, then winning the gold medal, that's not the main thing. It's got to be a combination of those two things.
From a basketball perspective, from a career perspective, what did Kevin Durant accomplish this month?
Well, he elevated. He was on a pretty high floor already, but he went close to being in the penthouse, you know, during this time.
The beauty about Kevin is he's pure. You know, he's not trying to do anything except play basketball and get better. I loved coaching him. And he learned how to be a really great international player in the last five weeks, which will help him become an even better NBA player.
But I smile at all the things he said. He is that genuine. He's a special, special guy. He's definitely a special player.
Some of the players after the game are saying one of the best things about this is a lot of people didn't think that the United States was going to win the gold medal at this tournament. How much did that make it sweeter for you even when compared to the great performance in 2008?
Well, it did mean a lot. You know, we didn't talk about like every day doesn't think you can win. But based on the fact that we didn't have any returning guys from the Olympic team, we lost a lot of guys right at the start of training camp because of contract or injury, I thought they rallied and we became a little bit of an unconventional team.
But we could win; we just felt it would be a lot harder. And they worked real hard and they made it happen. So very fulfilling.
I think our country in following this team, especially lately, followed in a little bit different way than they would have followed if we had all the guys who were Olympians back, which I think is kind of neat for our country to do that.
The U.S. is perceived as being unable to unwilling to bring big‑name NBA players to international competitions. Next year is the Pan American games. Do you think the fact the U.S. won tonight might produce a national incentive for those players to come aboard and come to these competitions?
Well, USA Basketball respects every international competition. It obviously wouldn't be able to send the same team to all of those. But what we're trying to do is to develop a bigger pool of players who would then participate in the different events. So it's meant to no disrespect. It's kind of a way of life to have these guys give three, four, five-year commitments, it's very difficult. So having this group be successful, there will be some guys from this team who will be on our Olympic team as a result of being on this team. So we're going to try to use different competitions to deepen the pool of players, but show great respect for every competition.
Do you believe this group of players are the base of the Olympic tournament?
Well, like what Jerry Colangelo said, They earned equity. We now have a deeper pool. We have guys who were champions, a different team in the Olympics, and now guys who are world champs. There will be new players that will emerge. That's a good problem to have, is to choose amongst a lot of really good players.
We're just so happy that so many United States players want to play for their country. It had kind of waned in that respect in the first part of this century. Now, you know, people want to be a part of it and recognize how important it is. So that's a good thing.
Why didn't you bring the whole team this time like you did in Beijing?
I have no control over that. I just follow whatever they tell me to do. They're all celebrating in the locker room. Although they all said that they missed being with all of you. I was going to end the talk on extending their apologies. But I think they were celebrating.
It was meant to no disrespect they sent their flunky coach to talk about them.
How would you compare this team to the former USA teams you coached?
I think this was the best defensive team. I believe that because they knew they needed to play defense to win. The Olympics, our guys played great defense, too, but they could outscore you also. This team, we weren't necessarily sure we could outscore somebody, but we had to defend them. There were some unsung heroes. Russell Westbrook and Iguodala played truly amazing games, not just tonight but throughout the tournament. And Odom was a monster tonight both offensively and defensively.
On Kevin Durant and more tournament comments:
The continuity of infrastructure, both in organization and in style of play, helps. So Kevin every summer knew that we were going to play good defense.
By the way, there's a good chance he'll be on the Olympic team. It's like breaking news.
We want to always establish defense. We think we can play a different style of defense than any other country. We just have to learn a little bit new rules, because the NBA, you can't have a help side as much. But once they learn that, with our athleticism, if we're committed to it, then we have a weapon that can help us win.
On behalf of our team and all of our support people, thank you to the Turkish people. We've made wonderful friends here. To play Turkey in Istanbul, what a great thing for world basketball. I'm going to miss the Four Seasons. I didn't know there were as many boats in the world as there were going past our hotel. It's beautiful, just a beautiful, beautiful city.
USA Assistant Coach Jim Boeheim
You were there in the Olympic situation, but talk about this situation:
The World Championships is much more than people realize in the United States. For the rest of the world, the World Championships is still bigger.
To win it with a young team like this, especially since we haven't won it since 1994, makes it even better. This is a tremendous accomplishment for these young kids. They came to win and they won. That's not easy to do.
Was it even reasonable to think six weeks ago when you put this team together they could come together this quickly?
I don't think so. Everybody in hindsight thinks so. If you ask anybody six, seven eight weeks ago, they would have thought you're going to have a hard time with so many young players, not a lot of size. Lamar did a great job inside. Kevin stepped up big. Everybody else just pitched in and did what they could do. It was a really good team effort. Obviously we had great players. That's a great combination.
Talk a little bit about Kevin, MVP, unbelievable the last three games:
JIM BOEHEIM: He's a great player. I mean, he's a scorer. He can shoot it and he can score. He's only going to get better. He works at the game. He has no fear.
To be a great scorer, you have to have no fear. He has no fear.
Talk about ending the streak with a World Championship:
When I talked to Coach K, Mr. Colangelo, this is what it was all about. We had won the 2008 gold medal, but we lost the 2006 World Championships. We wanted to come back and get this. We felt like this was missing. We just wanted to be a part.
Everything just worked out great. Mr. Colangelo, Coach K have done a great job of putting this team together, you know, giving them a vision, bringing national basketball back to the United States.
Was there anything about this team that surprised you? Kind of amazing, all scorers on their team, but it was always defense from the get-go with you guys.
We built it on defense. That's what we talked about. Tonight they probably played their best defensive game in a sense of, you know, we had to beat Turkey in Turkey. One of the messages before the game from Coach K, our exhibitions game we beat Spain in Spain, we beat Greece in Greece, and we wanted to beat Turkey in Turkey.
These are three of the toughest teams to play. These guys responded at the right time.
USA Assistant Coach Jay Triano
Just talk about this experience and being a world champion:
It's unbelievable. You know, it's a dream come true for me. This is my fifth World Championships, three as a player, one as a coach. To be an assistant coach here, just from day one, listening to Coach K here talk about the dream and the goal and have these guys follow through every step of the way.
The best thing was the players. The players were so together, so bought into it. For young players, I think it's going to help them not only with their careers in the NBA, but it helps the USA down the road.
All these guys are scorers on their regular teams. Amazing it came down to their commitment to defense:
That was the key from day one. We went with guys that were quick athletes. We said the best thing we can do is defend. The defense is going to win, and it did. We locked everybody up. We frustrated teams. It made it difficult for them to score.
Chauncey Billups (Denver Nuggets)
Tell me what it means to you to win a World Championship like this:
Unbelievable feeling, man. Unbelievable feeling. This ranks right up there with my NBA championship, man.
I mean, it's kind of in similar fashion because nobody really gave us a chance. They talked about who wasn't here, who this, who that, who is too inexperienced. At the end of the day, none of that stuff really mattered. We came together as a team and did what we had to do.
What made this team special?
I think just coming together and nobody really having an ego, everybody wanting to win just for the country, for each other. I think when you have that, it makes for a special time.
Talk about your leadership in this:
Obviously that was a major factor when you agreed to be on the team. Each and every game it seemed like you had a stronger influence.
What was happening?
Yeah, that's kind of what I do, man. That's what I'm here for. That's what I do for my regular team.
I just felt like I could give these guys so much knowledge and wisdom that I've learned over the years that one day they're going to be in the same position I'm in and they're going to be able to pass it down, as well, like somebody passed it to me. It's a pleasure for me to be able to do that.
Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks)
Tell me about winning the championship here:
This is unbelievable. We came together. Nobody knew what to expect. Nobody really thought we would be here.
We fought together. We became actually a defensive team. We stuck with that. We stuck to our principles and now we're champions.
Defense really was the key, especially tonight.
Yeah, everything from the beginning of the tournament, from training camp till now has all been predicated on defense.
We got 12 unselfish guys. Coaching staff, everybody involved, everybody really came together. It's been such a blessing for all of us to come together. Now we're going to celebrate together.
Highlight of your career so far?
Definitely, definitely. You know what? We brothers forever now. We are linked together forever now.
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Tell me about winning the World Championship, what it means to you:
It means a lot because, you know, for a lot of us and myself, I haven't been a part of a championship team except a conference team in college. To be on this stage, win a World Championship, it will be a lasting standing. Playing Turkey in their own country and defeating them brought some memories back for me playing at U-19 and losing to Serbia in the finals in Serbia. This is my chance to get gold and we got it done.
What made this team special?
You know, our focus and determination to go out there and play defense, I think. We knew we could score. But defensively it was going to make the game a lot easier for us if we could pressure the guys, take them out of their offense. That would feed right into our offense.
We were young and eager to get out there and just work hard and leave our egos at the door and just play.
What about the environment tonight? Was that one of the coolest environments you played in?
The coolest, I think. I don't know how many people the arena seats. But our little USA section, all those Turkish fans were supporting Turkey. It was loud, energetic. For us to play as well as we did in that kind of environment makes this that much more special. We're going to remember this.
Any memory that stands out to you from this?
Every KD shut. Every time he shut the crowd up with a huge three, just celebrating at the end, being on the platform with the confetti flying, our national anthem going off. It was a great moment.
Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
What does it mean to win a World Championship?
It means a lot, man, to our country, our families, where we come from. It's unbelievable. To be in this group of guys, to win it with this team is even better. So I'm excited.
What made this team special?
We were so young. All everybody cared about was winning. Everybody doubted us. Everybody said we were too young, too small, no experience.
But we proved everybody wrong.
I know you're not an individual guy, but winning the MVP has to be cool:
That is cool. But that was the last thing I was worried about. I was hoping it was going to somebody else. But it was good to bring home the gold and the MVP, but all I'm worried about is this medal.
Obviously you exploded on the world stage here. You seem like the kind of guy that doesn't look at this like a marketing opportunity. Could you talk about that a little bit, the way you approach this and probably don't know what's going to come out of it.
I just wanted to come over here and win. That was my mindset from day one, was to come over here and try to get a gold.
Knew it was going to be tough. That was all that was in my mind. None of the other stuff, global marketing, none of that stuff entered my mind.
My teammates do a great job of helping me, push me every day. The guys here on the USA team pushed me every day to be the best, gave me confidence.
I was just trying to win it for everybody back at home. This is a great feeling. That's all I'm worried about.
Kevin, two years ago you couldn't go to the tournament and the Olympic Games. Now you are the leader of this team. What are your feelings?
I was put in a great position to come out here and be a starter, be one of the main guys that coach picked to play hard.
I took on the challenge. It was a tough start for me. I had to work and get better with the international game. But I was always looking to get better.
My teammates, like I said, always made sure that I came to work every day and they pushed me and I got better. Like I said, my only option was to come out here and get a gold. It feels really good to bring this back home to the States.
Coming in with the title of the 'B Team', did that motivate you any extra? Do you feel you've proven to the United States and the world that you're not the 'B Team'?
Yeah, I think that was everybody's motivation, especially coming back to the United States, people who really doubted us and said it was going to be tough for us to win.
We came out and proved everybody wrong. We worked hard in practice, were focused in. Coach made sure he did a great job of letting us know what we were doing out here. All we came to get was a gold. To play for a great coach like that, that really knows what he wants, is a great feeling. So it was exciting to come out here and win and also to prove people wrong.
At a young age, to be considered a superstar, are there any areas of your game that need improvement? If yes, which are they?
Every area of my game. I think posting up, my ball handling, rebounding, defense, everything needs to get better no me to be a great player.
I work hard to get every day to get better at it. I have a long ways to go to be the player I want to be. I'm looking forward to waking up every day and going to the gym and getting better. But right now I'm just enjoying this moment of being the world champion.
In the second half, you jumped over the stands, what was going on?
I was just pounding my chest, letting everybody know, you know, who we are, the USA team. That's across my chest, that's what we represent.
I was in the moment. I was emotional. Coach K told us in all our meetings to be passionate, to be emotional for everybody on the floor, for everybody back home. That's what I was doing. I was just lost in the moment, man. That was a lot of fun out there.
Did you know you had a record-tying seven three-pointers?
No, I didn't. All I knew I was shooting a lot of threes. I had open looks. One thing in training camp we preached about is take your shot and keep the defense honest. I was able to get some wide open ones, I was able to hit them. My teammates did a great job of penetrating and passing me the ball, get me in position to score. I got in a rhythm going early. I'm glad we cruised to the win.
Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies)
Rudy, can you just talk about winning the gold medal, a World Championship, what it means to you.
It feels good. People go their whole careers without winning something like this. You know, being so young, it means a lot to me. We played good basketball, but not many people get to win championships.
Does it almost seem unbelievable?
It does. It's almost like it's not real. I love this group. We all love each other, man. We played great together. Everybody gave something up. We came out here and played great.
What was the key to this team and the success they had?
Versatility. Guys come out there, playing different positions, giving up things we can do. You know, no egos. We checked our egos at the door. Everybody, when they go back to their teams, basically run their team. Right here we were one.
Eric Gordon (Los Angeles Clippers)
Just your thoughts on winning a World Championship:
You know, it definitely means a lot. I haven't won an NBA championship yet or a college championship. This one means a lot.
What was so special about this team?
You know, because we're kind of a young team and nobody really expected us to win. In the U.S., they thought we were too young, we weren’t together, as well. But a good thing we won.
What are the memories you take from this? Anything in general? Will it be the ceremony, something you did individually?
It's new for a lot of guys. I want to soak in this experience and hopefully a lot more will come on.
Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers)
Just talk about what it means to be on a World Championship team:
It was an amazing feeling, you know, to set out what we wanted to do. A couple months ago we all set out to accomplish this. We did it and we won in good fashion. It's just a great feeling, especially the camaraderie we built as a team.
Is this what made this team special, the camaraderie?
Definitely. We all feel like brothers. We all play against each other in the regular season. Right now we're playing jokes with each other, hanging out all the time. It translated right onto the court.
We played well together and won a World Championship.
Were you surprised how good you ended up being, especially defensively?
Yeah, I think that was the niche that we kind of figured out that we had. I think the coaches, Coach K did a great job, saw that would be our biggest strength. We used it. We exploited other teams with our defensive pressure.
It was just a great job on everybody's part.
Andre Igoudala (Philadelphia 76ers)
Tell me what it's like to be a world champion:
It's great. It's great spending time with everybody else. That's the fun part about it. Everybody is happy. A lot of smiles. You don't know what to say. You can't prepare for this, that's what I'm saying. You're prepared to win, but you can't prepare for the feeling afterwards. It's incredible.
What made the team special?
We all just like sacrificed for one another. It was never a problem making my shots. It was never a problem. Everybody bought into focusing on teamwork, five guys on the court, everybody else ready to come in and do their job. It was incredible.
Played as one cohesive group.
Could you ever imagine what this would actually be like?
You could think about it, but you don't know until now I'm watching. You can't think about this. It's indescribable, a great feeling.
Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Talk about winning the World Championship:
I mean, it's unbelievable. We didn't know what to expect, kind of like Tyson said. But, I mean, we're all brothers now really. This is an unbelievable experience. We're just going out to accept our gold medals now.
I mean, I can't even put into words how unbelievable this is. Nobody expected this from us. We went out and got the job done. We came together as a unit, as one, as a family, the coaches, staff and players. We'll forever be a part of USA Basketball and forever a part of history.
What was the key to the win tonight?
Defense. It's always been defense for us, the whole time. Obviously we've had the firepower on the offensive end. But being willing to step up on the defensive end is what won this tournament for us.
Just tell me what it means to win a World Championship. You have had one heck of a year:
Amazing. We better have won, I took these licks on my face. Look disfigured.
It was cool. I'm happy. Joyous feeling. Incredible.
What made this team special?
Defense, character, good guys coming together. One intention: that was to win the whole thing. One thing in mind. It's beautiful. Great feeling.
I'm sure you came in with high expectations, but did this even sail past that?
Yeah, because you never know what to expect. On that pedestal, the national anthem, you don't know what to expect.
Just thinking everybody at home is watching. President Obama probably. So, like, just on a different level.
Talk about being a captain on the team. Does that make it more special?
Especially that we had good guys, carried themselves the right way. We were composed, played good, clean basketball. Made friends around the hotel, around the city, everywhere we went. I think it speaks a lot for USA Basketball, the people we have involved in the program.
Thoughts on winning a World Championship?
I'm speechless right now. All the people that haven't won it, Olympic basketball, just coming over here, playing everybody on their home courts, the fight we put in it, like some of the players been on the select team for three or four years, it's finally paid off.
What made this team special?
We like playing with each other. We can hang around each other all day. We're the same age. We can relate to one another.
That's what made it special.
You said all along, Defense wins championships. Ultimately that's what did it for you guys, right?
Yeah, just standing there, D'ing up, picking up everybody full court, creating passing lanes. You can see how we won a championship. It was all defense.
Any one memory that stands out over the last month?
All this, this whole experience. Like I said, sometimes I wish that this could be my regular team because it's so easy. But, got to go back to reality. Everybody that played here, this is something that you will remember for the rest of your life. Everybody here appreciates it and they're grateful for it.
Tell me what it means for you to win a World Championship:
It's a great accomplishment. Hasn't been done in a long time.
We committed ourselves this summer to do this. We did a good job. We needed a whole staff. We all put time in to win it, so...
What made this team special?
Just how we got along. We knew what we came here to do. We came here and did it and got it done.
Talk about tonight's game, the environment. Is that one of the cooler environments you played in?
Definitely. We all played in college. Most of us played in college. You know how it feels to go on the road and get a win. Especially with this much at stake, we did a good job competing.
At the end of the day it seemed that defense ruled the day for you.
Definitely. That's been the key for us all season. We've been keeping at it. Been doing a good job of that all tournament long.