Decried by many, aware that they would not be there for the most part without a cascade of packages, the Team USA players took refuge in a relentless group cohesion. One of the keys? The dinners.
Gregg Popovich has his principles, and he does not derogate with either his frankness or his selection: to play well together, we must get along. "You must love being with people to feel indebted to them. It needs empathy. You have to love yourself to a certain degree. " From this point of view, Pop does not complain:
They became close very quickly. The camaraderie is at the rendezvous, and I think it's a good sign for us.
During their internship in China in preparation for the Worlds, Team USA players did not miss to spend time together. The WhatsApp group is heating up and the activity proposals are coming out, especially from the "leader" in the field: Donovan Mitchell.
The Athletic reports indeed that Spida is always quick to organize group activities, one of which is very recurrent: the restaurant. This is obviously a long-time tradition of Popovich, used to take his players eat a tip around a good bottle. Of course, he did it from the beginning of the campaign several weeks ago, with a rule (no phone at the table) and a flower (let Kyle Kuzma choose the wine).
This activity, initially mandatory, soon became natural for players, so much so that they regularly organize restaurants between them, and sometimes without Gregg Popovich, who is delighted. Yesterday, 10 of the 12 players were at the table. Brook Lopez, the group's only player not to have an iPhone, did not receive Mitchell's message. Pity.
Read also | LeBron James surprises a girl at home
Journalists who follow Team USA are formal: rarely have players appreciated so much in the selection of Uncle Sam. The time spent together is even, according to their say, higher than that of an NBA team. The goal? Not necessarily talking about basketball, far from it. But simply understand each other, discover each other, laugh. In short, all that Pop wants. Mitchell says:
Our dinners are fun, just fun. We talk enough basketball all day. We talk about others, our teams, what we did the day. Just the life of guys what, we are a lot to have similar situations.
With the close cooperation of Team USA's nutritionist, the players have even become accustomed to their coach: a good glass of wine is essential to conviviality. And when it comes time to pay the bill, it's often the veterans who devote themselves, like Kemba Walker yesterday.
In summary, to use a term widely used in sport: the group lives well. And it's not these cool images of a Gregg Popovich playing "Who am I? During a dinner with his hilarious players who will say the opposite:
Watching Gregg Popovich play 'Heads Up!' will make your Friday better 😂
– NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) August 31, 2019
Of course, it takes more than a good team spirit to win Worlds. But this much-maligned team has found in critics and skepticism the desire to unite and, under the leadership of their coach, build strong and human bonds between them. Pop in the text … to lead Team USA to gold?
Latest NBA news | Buzz of the day | transfers | franchises | players