How Team USA Breeds Super Teams
Team USA is where the best American players the league can offer gather, be it for the FIBA World Cup, The Olympics, or their annual mini-camps to show out. Over time these camps have become breeding grounds for the super teams we see running the league today. LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade have all gone on record about how the initial idea of the Miami Heat “super team” of 2010 to 2014 was proposed after being with team USA and in LeBron’s words “thinking shoot, this is fun. We gotta do this again.”
Rewind to the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs, the Denver Nuggets featuring Andre Iguodala were upset by a young, hungry inexperienced Golden State Warriors team. Getting beaten from pillar to post by a baby faced Stephen Curry; who himself was breaking out of the shadow and emerging as one of the stars to lead the league for years to come. Iggy would go on to join a Warriors team with next to no cap space and very little assets to wiggle their way into a contract, for what a player like Andre could want and rightfully demand. The move shocked the fans but to those present, at the 2010 FIBA World Cup, the move was a matter of when and how rather than if.
During his welcome press conference, Iguodala spoke fondly of his time with Team USA. Where he and Steph would go back to the gym after practice to get some shots up together, pleasantly recalling how it was there he and Curry got to know each other. Seeing how their games worked together. With them bonding over their love for the game they played as kids, how they both approached it with that carefree enjoy and express yourself attitude and them both holding the Christian faith in their respective strong core values.
While on the court player chemistry is important off the court the players must also be like-minded individuals. This goes for Steph, Andre, and any other player who has the skill set to play at the NBA level. The old saying goes “Ball is Life,” so the way a player approaches their own life will greatly influence the way they approach the game itself.
Having witnessed firsthand the damage the boys dawning the Blue and Gold in Oracle do and his history with the guy running the show, he could see their vision and bite into their goals. While he probably didn’t expect the number of banners that hang in their rafters now he saw a team primed and ready to scratch and claw in a championship fight. Iggy then took it upon himself to elevate those championship contenders into winners as shown in their first championship, taking home Finals MVP after playing tough gritty defense on the best player in the world LeBron James. When others slumped under the pressure Iggy let the pressure turn him into diamond, putting the Warriors over the edge. Thus closing the book on the loveable team looking to make noise, that drafted diamonds in the rough, nurturing and developing them into household names. Instead ushering in the free agency era.
Going back to Andre’s unveiling we now see with the gift of hindsight a huge clue is dropped as to what was in store for the Warriors. Iggy mentions another guy present in Turkey whom he and Steph spent time bonding with, this lanky 21-year-old fresh from his first All-Star appearance, named Kevin Durant. In the chapel pre-match, in the locker room post-match, or on the practice court when everybody else was away enjoying themselves, Andre gushed about how they were insuperable. Let me remind you this conference is in 2013, 3 years before KD shocked the world and bailing on Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City, having failed to close out on their 3-1 lead. Before Draymond Green picked up the phone and made the phone call in the parking lot before KD was even considering his next career move. Having just inked a 5-year contract extension. But who is to say it hadn’t pawned Andre’s mind? The prior year Kevin and Andre were with Team USA earning gold in London, Andre had a front-row seat to see KD lead a team of superstars in scoring.
As for the other members of the Hampton core, they’d get their quality time in the ensuing mini camps, plenty of time to bond. Recruiting is a dirty game; doesn’t matter what the sport, but if done in an undisclosed manor, with all of it being discreetly well it is nothing more than just simple bonding. Anything else sees a heave fine and punishment for tampering. The aim is to do enough: enough to plant the thought and that thought is only going to grow larger and larger when competing against them in western conference finals. The possibility of this huge career-shaping move just right around the corner should you want it.
A month after Kevin Durant announced his move to the Bay Area, was the 2016 Olympics. The entire world had its eyes glued on the members of the new Warriors core worrying how any team could top it. While the public eye looked at the on-court show the Warriors were running a show off the court. DeMarcus Cousins was on the bench laughing with, getting shots up with, and developing his own chemistry with the Golden State core. Don’t believe me go back and watch, in fact, there’s the video of Boogie decked out in Team USA next to Steph deeming himself the 3rd splash brother.
It was with Team USA where it all began for Durant: not the phone to the logo himself, Jerry West disguising his legacy. It wasn’t in the same players meeting in a borderline palace in East Hampton, not in some crazy recruiting pitch by West and Warriors GM Bob Myers featuring a virtual reality of what life would be like if he suited up in Oracle. Matter of fact Wests and Myers’ meeting suffer technical difficulties, the VR malfunctioned. The mansion meeting was a great incentive, the promise of tech adventures with Tech Crunch was a nice touch and of course, a call from Jerry West is enough to make you blush but it was the human relationships that swayed him. The idea that Nike and Under Armour get a massive boost by their two golden boys on the same team helped but Klay Thompson being completely unbothered by the significance of the situation asking “would it help Anta?” lured him in.
The Warriors canted approach to recruiting secured the goods, the bluntness to Kevin that he’d have to sacrifice touches, that he may lose shots, and how his box score might not look that good. Then they went and did the same thing to Boogie. When Kerr was asked on the Cousins’ signing he answered about how he didn’t beat around the bush, he was straightforward and told him there will be possessions where Cousins isn’t involved because of how fast the Warriors played.
Players like that, they don’t want sugar-coated proposal with flashy presentations featuring celebrities sitting courtside, that is just peer pressure, it is a manipulation tool. As a former player, Kerr knows that it is the ace up his sleeve when sitting down with free agents, so he gives them the harsh reality. Tells them of hate pending, the lack of shine they’ll receive. Rather than experiencing it months in when locked into a contractual obligation. Knowing that even if the team lands the star they soon realise the fit was never real and they were not the piece to the jigsaw, only the carpet the jigsaw is on.
Of course, every circumstance differs in at least one way but this remains true for essentially every player made super team in this modern era, the Warriors history of utilising Team USA conversions as unofficial recruitment meetings is something that runs deep.
None of the moves I mentioned in this article are possible without the proper Basketball environment that Team USA breeds, the best of the best to gel and bond. Working to achieve a common goal under legendary coaches often in daunting and foreign situations is where these lifelong relationships are formed.
In an era where there is more player power and movement than ever before look no further than a relationship formed at a USA minicamp to see the next possible super team, because with Team USA the dots are connected, the Is are dotted, and Ts were crossed. Free agency is only adding the full stop at the end.
We hope you enjoyed the article ‘How Team USA Breeds Super Teams.’ Do you think Team USA will win Gold at the Tokyo Olympics? Let us know!
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