Additional Quotes >> USA 107, Spain 100
London, England Aug. 10, 2012
Is this even sweeter than the one in 2008?
It’s the one I think more about because it just happened. It’s pretty sweet. ’08 was sweet; this is sweeter because we’ve done it twice.
Does it feel like it’s getting harder to win this?
I think it was more difficult to win this time just because of the obstacles but having said that, I think we have time to think it through and get ready for the next run. You learn as you go along. It’s a long journey and so far, it’s been spectacular.
On the Gasol brothers:
I have great respect for both of the Gasols. I have great respect for Spain. I have respect for the international game. It is a different game and we were up for the challenge.
On what made it work with Coach K and his future role with USA Basketball:
He’s welcomed to to do whatever he wishes to do. I told him I want him alongside me going forward one way or another. We’ve bonded in a huge way over these last years, and we share a lot of things in common. We both come from ethnic backgrounds, Chicago; have a feel of coming from literally nothing and accomplishing and achieving a lot of things; and we are both appreciative, respect everything we’ve been able to do in our lifetimes. And we just kind of hit it off extremely well. I’m sure that will never change.
First off I would like to congratulate the great team from Spain for their magnificent performance. I would also like to congratulate Russia on the Bronze Medal. The tournament was spectacular and Great Britain was an amazing host for this tournament. We know that we won a great basketball game today. They were really good and I thought we were really good. And we had to be in order to win. Foul trouble hurt us, there size hurt us. Our guys have come through all the time. Two of the guys who came through are sitting right here. We got some defensive stops and hit some big shots. I really thought that an unsung hero of this game was Kevin Love, how he had to battle inside defensively because we had a big height disadvantage in there. He helped make a couple of stops for us down the stretch that were just huge. We are proud of the Gold Medal. Very appreciative of the support we got here. It’s a heck of a thing. I love the way my guys responded today.
Team like Spain and Argentina and maybe even France have been together for years and that is probably something that is as much as you try you can’t replicate the togetherness, the bond that they have on the court. How have you gone about trying to do the best that you can with that?
One, we have as good a bond and camaraderie as any team that is in the tournament. We just don’t react instinctively to each other’s talents. The bond and the camaraderie I would take ours over anybody. It’s just they play together all the time and they have a great bond, I am not knocking that by the way I was kidding, a couple of days ago, about the thing about throwing out the ball. So when I am laughing and telling something it means it’s not serious, all right. I saw two reports were I curtly said something. I have not said anything curtly or in a negative manner this entire Olympics just using your question as a podium to clear the air on that. We do have some continuity by having five players on the Olympic Team in Beijing and five players on the team from the World Championship. But we will never know each other as well as the Spanish Team who have been together a lot of the since they were 19. Just read about the accomplishments that those guys have had from their teenage years until know. These are the type of teams that we have to compete against. Yes, and we respect. We know that these teams can beat guys and we know that Argentina is good enough to beat us. We know that Spain did enough to beat us today. And if we didn’t have that respect we would get beat. That is why we are proud of our guys who recognize that and prepare as well as we have prepared in order to come through in a tough game like we had today.
I’ve been with him since 2006. I have seen him grow not because of us. I have seen him grow immensely He is the best player and he is the best leader and he is as smart as anyone playing the game right know. We have developed a really close bond because I rely on him to be that for me and he has been. He made two big plays the dunk and the three. He just makes smart plays and he played with the four fouls the last five minutes of the ball game. I didn’t know it was him until I turned around and he doused me with the water. Those are good moments. I love my relationship with him. What a year. NBA champ, MVP, Gold Medal. Only two other players in the history of our sport have done this Jordan & Russell. And for LeBron to join those two he is worthy of joining those two.
Do you remember your emotions in 2002 and 2004 when you watched the SU team struggle in those two tournaments World Championships and the Olympic Games. I know you weren’t there but what do you remember about what you were feeling?
I think every United States basketball person gets hurt and feeling bad when our US team loses. So I felt badly about it. As a basketball person I also knew that the team from Argentina was darn good. The team from Spain is really good. As a basketball person I think that we realized how good the rest of the world is. I just don’t think the rest of the country realizes that. When Jerry took over in 2005 was the turning point for USA Basketball. What he has established over these 7 years has been terrific in building a great culture. I feel honored to be part of it to be on the same team as him. It has produced two Olympic Golds and a World Championship.
Coach, FIBA has put forth their proposals for 2016 on how they see basketball going forward. Kind of a two parter they want to open up to 16 team to change the format and also introduce three-on-three as an Olympic sport. What are your opinions?
I am going to have to look up on that. I don’t know what the hell is happening in other parts of the world or three-on-three. I forgot my wife’s name [laughter] my grandkids I think I still have 8. I am going to have to read up on that. I would hate to comment on something that I really don’t have knowledge for. By the way, that is a good thing to think about, not to comment on anything you may not have knowledge about. [laughter]
Are you absolutely positively done with coaching this team?
I am. But I think I can get a great meal out of this. I have already told Jerry, great Italian restaurant, not that Italian and great are always put together. The thing I would want to do with Jerry, and we will do, is after every competition you take some time to evaluate everything. In the military we call it an after action report. And we have done that all the time. What we did, what we could have changed. How we could have gotten better and in moving forward what is the next step in moving forward. That is kind off how we have done it for the last 7 years. And I would like to continue to do it that way.
You were leaping out of your chair. Such emotion. Can you describe what was going on in your head, when you realized you were going to win?
The quality of question from NBC News has been elevated tremendously by what you have just said. I was really really happy. Unbelievably happy. This was a great game. It wasn’t a good game it was a great game. As a competitor you are so emotional going into it. With about a minute and a half, I knew that, unless we really messed up, that we got it. You just kind of instinctively react that way. So, I am a happy guy, very happy guy. And proud.
With that celebratory leap in mind, does this gold mean more to you than the one four years ago?
No it’s the same. Same as its matter of fact. Each team that we have had - ’08, 10 & 12 - are different and a shared experience in a championship moment. It’s the best that a player or a coach could ever have. And those are the ultimate the ultimate for players and coaches so it is tough to differentiate among them.
Mike, basketball is a sport, unfortunately, that the World expects the United States to win. Is that kind of a tough thing you win it is expected, you lose and you are a goat?
I would think that basketball people in our country realize that this was a great win for us. I think we should expect excellence. And if you have excellence you have a greater chance of winning. But the other person can be excellent too. Like Spain was excellent today. They were not deserving of losing with our effort. We are going to get those excellent performances from outstanding teams as we go on. And we are not going to win all of them. Just because people are too good. We are just pleased that we won this one and we are going to try and win them all. It’s just the way it is right know. As long as in USA Basketball we respect the world and prepare that way, then we will have a greater chance to win.
On winning another gold medal:
I don’t think people realize how good Spain is when they play well; and they played better this time than they played in 08. They played great. Look at their team, every guy on their team played well. Guys coming off the bench played well. They took the lead, which shows just how tough our guys are; they were able to just shrug it off. Kevin Durant hit a big shot. LeBron hit a big shot. Chris hit a big shot. So, three different guys hit big shots. Kevin Love made two big defensive plays and that’s why you win close games, because guys are committed. It’s almost better to win a game like this and take a gold medal home than win by 30. This was something they had to earn. I don’t think people realize just how good Spain is; they beat everybody else. When they play well and they are healthy, they are really good; and they all played well tonight. So, it’s a great win and it was fun to be part of it. It’s not that easy to win an Olympic gold medal; and these guys helped us win two.
On where this one ranks in terms of winning:
I think the difference is you are playing for your country here, and it’s a great honor to do that, and everybody knows you are playing for your country. You talk about the Olympic spirit, everybody has that here. You watch all these other athletes, they are all here playing for their country and, especially when you see all these NBA players who make millions and millions of dollars coming over here to play it obviously means something to them. The work they put in, the effort they put in, it means a lot. I think people should really be appreciative of what these players have done and how much pride that we all take in bringing our basketball program back up to where we think it should be. It’s not that easy. We are where we should be.
On winning another gold:
Just as good as the first one, and a great goal. It’s a privilege to be a part of a game like this because both sides played super. You just saw a lot of heart and a lot of brains. It’s just very satisfying because we won.
On how this was different than 2008:
It was more of a slugfest. This was more of a typical European battle. I think our guys it was so different that they enjoyed it. When you earn something like this it just means so much more. And we earned it.
Thoughts on the gold medal game:
Rematch from 2008. We came in really anticipating that this would be the matchup for the Gold Medal game. They are a tough team. They are solid. They have a lot of NBA players and they play an NBA style of basketball. (Pau) Gasol was unbelievable tonight in the post. I thought our guys did a great job adjusting the defense; Coach K did a good job of adjusting the defense to try and just not give them the same look. They are so smart. They are probably the best passing team in this tournament other than us. And Navarro, who hasn’t played well this tournament played extremely well. The two guys who really played well in 2008 came through again for them: Rudy Fernandez and Navarro.
On winning his second gold:
It’s just a great feeling because at the beginning I feel Mr. Colangelo and Coach K give this team a vision and, of course, a goal, which is to win the gold. But they do such a great job of presenting the vision and the roadmap to accomplishing what the team did tonight, which is win the gold medal. And to look back on where we started in Las Vegas on July 5, and all the things they did to pull this team together so that they would be a team at this time, to look back on it and see how it came together and to accomplish what you set out to do, it’s a great feeling.
Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
On Winning the Gold:
For us to persevere the way we did, it’s a just a special moment for myself, for the guys that were on this team, for all the work that we put in and the commitment that we made to get where we are at right now.
On whether it was harder than he thought it was going to be:
We knew it was going to be a tough game coming in tonight. Spain, they didn’t quit; very, very physical game. It came down to us making plays. When you have a group of guys that is use to making plays like we have on this team you never know who is going to make those plays. There were times where Chris Paul stepped up big for us; LeBron stepped up; KD was outstanding from the three-point line. It took a couple of little things rebounding, just buckling down for about four or five minutes out there in the fourth quarter for us to break the game open.
On how he is physically:
I’m in a great place.
On several of the players going over and shaking Doug Collins’ hand:
We know what he did for our country when he played in the Olympics and what he had to go through, so for us to honor him, that was an easy thing to do for us. It felt good to see him over there, commentating the game and him standing up. He always gets emotional around this time
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
One what the gold means to him:
This is a huge honor. To be able to finish it out this way is special.
On whether this was the way he envisioned winning:
We knew it was going to be this way. We knew it was going to be a tough game. They play really well; they are very smart, very well-coached. They have a lot of size and a lot of talent and they use it. So, we knew it was going to be tough.
On what it felt like when the buzzer sounded:
It was very emotional. You just kind of think back on the journey, so to speak. Being here for your last go-round, wearing USA on your chest, it’s very emotional.
One how much more he appreciates this, being a veteran:
I really appreciate it. You understand how fleeting time is. You enjoy every single moment of it. It brings me great joy to be able to stand here at this point and time of my career to be able to reflect and look back on all the memories and this being one of them.
Where this ranks in his career:
It’s right up there at the top. It was a journey for us. It was tough. To be standing here right now having played a very tough opponent in Spain, having won another gold medal. It’s a huge accomplishment.
On whether London delivered:
I think so. I’ve had a great time here. I felt this city has done a fantastic job, and I think the venues were incredible, the support has been incredible. The Great Britain athletes really did a fantastic job.
Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks)
On their opponent, Spain:
They gave us everything we could handle. I think we proved to the world that we are not just a bunch of individuals, we are a basketball team. We fought; we fought hard, and we were able to get the gold tonight.
One whether he thought winning gold was going to be more of a struggle:
I did. I thought with the runs that we make, we’d be able to run off a little bit. But every single time we threw a punch, they threw a punch back. My hat goes off to them, they are an incredible opponent. That’s what makes it that much better; it came down to the wire.
On what winning gold means:
This is unbelievable. Coach told us before the game we were going to hear the National Anthem twice, once before the game and once after, and I guarantee you are going to feel chills the second time. As I was standing up there it literally felt as if somebody was pouring a warm glass of water from the top of my head to my feet. I just got shills and goose bumps.
On the Olympic experience:
It was incredible. Just being able to bond and, you know, everybody on this team is a star on their own team, a star in the league. But to come here and everybody buying in to the team and accepting their roles has been the most amazing thing to watch. My memories will forever be our bus rides, our locker room experiences and everything else that was out of sight.
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets)
I’ve asked you before but after it’s actually happened could you ever have dreamed this?
No. It’s a great feeling. It feels like the national championship all over. [inaudible] being on the court with these guys jumping up and down after we won with LeBron and Kobe, KD, Melo, all the players on the team. A great feeling
What did Kobe tell you when you got the medal at the end?
He said it’s not the last one for you and I asked him if he was going to play with me in 2016 and he just started laughing.
What does it feel like to get the rebound at the end of the game? The ball was in your hands at the end of the game?
It was in my hands in the national championship game, too. I think I just have a thing for having the ball in my hands at the last minute. CPO ran at me quick and wanted the ball that kind of ruined the moment. I was going to throw it in the air. We still won. I am still happy to be here.
Is it difficult for you to be watching most of the time?
No. It was an opportunity for me. I got better playing with these guys the last couple of months through USAB. I think I learned a lot from watching these guys from how they play, how they take the game, how they approach the game.
Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
On winning the gold medal:
I have a gold medal. It’s unbelievable, man. I couldn’t sleep last night waiting for the game. I’m glad we came out and got the W.
On the Spanish team:
They are a tough team. They made it tough for us all night. Fourth quarter, we were able to pull away, make some big shots. We have so many weapons on this team that can take over a game, but everybody chipped in tonight, and we got a really good win.
On the 2016 Games in Brazil:
I’m going to enjoy this one tonight. We’ll see probably in the next few years where we are going to go with that, but right now I’m just going to enjoy this.
James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder)
On how it feels to win his first gold medal:
It’s hard to explain. Just being on this team with this great group of guys, competing for a gold medal and reaching our goal is overwhelming.
On what he’ll take away from the experience:
Everything. Every single day it was something different. Especially, like I said, being with these guys. You get to watch them play basketball, you play basketball against them, but once you are the same team you get a feeling for who they are as a person> Every single day was something different and I am just happy to be a part of this team.
On what it felt like as the clock winded down:
Actually, I think we were up only seven or eight and I missed two free throws, but I’m just happy we got the win; that was our goal. We met early in the summer to win a gold medal, and here it is.
Andre Iguodala (Denver Nuggets)
One his Olympic experience:
It was a tremendous experience, both on and off the court, and how we formed a team in such little time. What people don’t realize is that these teams have been playing with each other since they were teenagers. For us to put a team of superstars together in three weeks or a month and a half, and what we built we built camaraderie, we worked hard together, we sacrificed for one another. This is what all that is for and it was a great outcome.
On his emotions when the gold medal was put around his neck:
You just froze for a second. You just went up there with your brothers, and there are only a small group that can say they were in that position. Just to be a part of that is amazing. It just shows all the hard work every individual has put in since we were a young age, what’s been instilled in us to get to this point. This has been an amazing journey. This is something that you are going to have forever. You feel like it’s a part of you, now
The one thing about the medal that surprised him:
It’s heavy. It’s a big medal.
On what it means to win a FIBA World Championship gold and an Olympic gold:
It’s an amazing experience. They both rank amongst themselves I can’t really compare them. They both rank up there with great accomplishments that I’ve had throughout my career.
Lebron James (Miami Heat)
On his relationship with Coach K:
I think between me, Coach K, CP and Melo we’ve been through it all. We were part of the whole rebuilding of the USA team trying to get back to where it was before. I was a part of it in ‘04 with me and Melo, and that was the lowest point for the USA team. Then Coach K and Jerry took over and then we lost the World Championship in 06. But we made that three-year commitment in 05 and we just tried to keep getting better each and every summer. We were able to win the Worlds in Las Vegas. We were able to win gold in 08 and that was a big step for us and four years later, being put in this position once again, we kind of all share the same traits. It’s been a long road for USA Basketball and like I said, I am happy to be in a position where I can say I had something to do with us being back on top.
On his experience in London:
It was great. I’m happy I was a part of it. I never thought a second about after I was in Miami and won a championship about me playing. I made a commitment, I wanted to be a part of this, and this is the reason why I came to be a part of this team: To have this bouquet of flowers and a gold medal.
On whether he will play in the 2016 Games:
I have no idea. I’m going to have fun with my teammates right now and then, I don’t know, I’m not even thinking about that right now.
On how difficult the process was, especially the gold medal game against Spain:
We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We know Spain is a great team; they match up well with us, and we match up well with them. A lot of our games were the same in 08. We played them in that final and they gave us a great run. They tested us more than any team. We felt like that was going to happen again tonight. This is a great team and they wanted redemption. We are just happy that we were able to make enough plays, get enough defensive stops and come through for our team.
Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)
On whether he wants to keep playing for USA Basketball:
Of course, of course. I would love to go to Rio and compete and at that time I’ll be heading into the prime of my career and it would be another unique experience. It would be a little bit different makeup of a team, maybe different coaches, but it will still be an unbelievable experience.
On his defense against Gasol:
He’s an unbelievable player. He plays on a high level for this team, throughout FIBA basketball and in the NBA. We just needed somebody who could slow him down a little bit. He got going there a little bit in the third quarter and we didn’t want him to get into a rhythm. I was able to get some stops on him and we were able to work out our team defense in the end.
On playing with foul trouble:
I knew we had other guys coming in. If I would have fouled out, Tyson would have been right there or Melo or somebody else. I think Coach had me in there for rebounding and being able to create extra possessions and taking time off the clock.
On being on the floor at the end of the game:
I felt like Coach K had a lot of trust in me and I felt like that this entire tournament. For me to be there at the very end I think was not only great for me, but great for this entire team. I was happy that I was able to help.
On his scoring late in the game, especially the layup at the end of the shot clock:
It all seems like a blur right now. Shot clock was running down and I saw Kobe up top and I had Pau on me he actually flicked the ball a couple of times. I don’t know, I think he probably thought I was going to do a step-out jump shot, which was my plan originally, but as I saw a lane open up somehow I got in there and made a lucky shot. It’s just a great feeling because the game was so intense.
On how worried they were in the fourth quarter:
I don’t think worried is the right word. I think we were prepared and big thanks to Lithuania for that tough game that they gave us. At halftime before we ran out, what we talked about amongst ourselves was the reason we had been so successful is because of our defense; it wasn’t because of the flurry of threes that we would make from game to game. It was because of our defense. As you saw late in the game, that’s where we really broke away, we got stops, we got in transition and when you’ve got guys like Melo, KD, and Kobe trailing the play, that’s the way we can find those open shots.
On the journey:
My journey started in ‘06 and I know those guys started in ‘04, and it probably sounds crazy to think that after winning a gold medal this is bittersweet, but it is, in that it is sweet to be able to have this gold medal around your neck but it’s tough because you don’t get this opportunity anymore. While we’ve been here playing and practicing for a while, I hate that in a couple of months these guys are going to be my enemies. This is the most fun time of my life; ‘08 was all good and well but there was something about our 2012 team that was just special. I hate that this was our last game playing together. It’s something that we’ll never forget.
On whether he is concerned about the under-23 proposition:
I’m not concerned about those things. I think for now I’m just excited that it’s not in affect and I had this opportunity. I’m glad that it not in affect because I got this opportunity. Like I said, this is a once in a lifetime chance and this is my second time doing it. There is nothing like playing in the Olympics. There is nothing like representing your country. I’ve played a lot of basketball, just like these other guys we’ve played a lot of basketball over our careers but nothing compares to this for this level and for these stakes.
Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
On getting the Gold Medal:
It was great! This is a blessing to be able to be here, just happy to enjoy this moment.
Does it feel like you thought it would feel?
I didn’t know. But it was great; it was a great feeling. It’s a tremendous feeling to be able to win a Gold Medal for your country. It’s great!
Can you talk about that game against Spain who gave you a fight all the way through?
It’s a good team a big team. We did a good job of staying together I think everybody did a great job of coming out and competing. It was a great game.
On what the Olympic experience meant to you
A sense of togetherness, I think everybody that brought their games from different teams their egos just brought it together. It’s possible as you have seen today.
On the court did you get better learn much?
Definitely, leadership - learn how to play with other guys. It was great, It’s a great feeling. I’m happy.
Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets)
On how it feels to win the gold medal:
It’s an amazing feeling. Just as special as the last time. We put a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication into this moment. A lot of people doubted us; they said we were too small, we didn’t have any size to match Spain. We proved everybody wrong.
With so many weapons, how they determine who gets the shots:
It just a matter of taking what the defense gives you. That’s the fortunate thing on this team, we all get easy looks and it’s just a matter of making them.
On the difference in the gold medal game:
I think the defense took over; we got stops when we needed to, and we converted as well we made some big shots. LeBron made some big shots, CP with that layup. It opened the game up for us.
On how to sum up the experience: