Tokyo Olympics: 'We've got the best talent in the world' - Durant remains bullish

By Sports Desk July 27, 2021

Team USA star forward Kevin Durant remains bullish about the side's ability to adjust their game in their pursuit of a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

USA were beaten 83-76 by France in their opening game at the Tokyo Olympics having been beaten by Australia and Nigeria in exhibition games in the lead-up.

The losses have led to criticism of the cohesion of Team USA who are 15-time Olympic gold medalists, but Durant insisted there was no panic ahead of Wednesday's second group game against Iran.

"Our adjustment is we just make more shots," Durant said. "We've got the best talent in the world on the team."

USA led throughout the first half against France before collapsing down the stretch, surrendering a 74-67 advantage.

"We got each other good shots," Durant added. "We know how to play off each other."

USA assistant coach Lloyd Pierce reiterated Durant's calmness about the situation, stating they need to remain confident.

"The keys to beating these guys is just being ourselves, worrying about what we do best," Pierce said.

"We want to get out and play fast and create extra possessions throughout the course of the games.

"It's only 40 minutes, we have to make this game a little bit faster and get as many easy shots as we can.

"We have to be ourselves as well. Our guys have to play with confidence, have to play with the freedom they're used to, they also have to do that together, make simple plays, quick plays and enjoy the experience."

Brooklyn Nets forward Durant provided a positive assessment of the impact of Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Devin Booker who played against France after competing in the NBA Finals last week.

The trio arrived barely 48 hours before the France game, with Holiday top scoring with 18 points plus four assists from 27 minutes.

Booker shot poorly, with four points and three assists from 18 minutes, while Middleton only had five minutes of game time.

"What they did to me felt like just who they are," Durant said. "I always have a high-level respect for all three of those guys.

"For them to come out and play, not really complain about anything, be excited to be here [full credit]. Those guys are amazing talents, it's great being around them."

Related items

  • Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai appears to side with his front office after Kevin Durant ultimatum Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai appears to side with his front office after Kevin Durant ultimatum

    Just hours after reports came out detailing how Kevin Durant gave the Brooklyn Nets an ultimatum about his future with the franchise, team owner Joe Tsai has sensationally thrown his support behind general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash.

    In a report from The Athletic's Shams Charania, it states Durant had a meeting with Tsai on Monday where he reiterated his trade request, as well as the bombshell that he will refuse to remain with the team unless Marks and Nash are both fired.

    Durant, 33, is about to enter the first year of his four-year, $198million contract extension with the Nets, meaning there is no way for the two-time NBA Finals MVP to literally force his way out. To leave Brooklyn, the team will need to trade him, and there is no guarantee that is in their plans, despite Durant's requests.

    In a clear statement of where his loyalty lies, Tsai tweeted: "Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets."

    The Athletic's report also revealed the Nets "engaged in conversations with almost every team in the league" after Durant's initial trade request, but no team has been able to meet their asking price, which is said to be one of the biggest in NBA history.

    The Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors and the Miami Heat are mentioned as the three teams most likely to aggressively pursue a trade, with 25-year-old Celtics wing Jaylen Brown considered the best player being included in negotiations.

  • Durant demands Marks, Nash axe for Nets stay Durant demands Marks, Nash axe for Nets stay

    Kevin Durant has doubled down on his stance that he won't play for the Brooklyn Nets, at least as the organisation is currently constituted. 

    In a meeting with franchise owner Joe Tsai, Durant demanded that either he be traded to another team or that the Nets fire the pairing of general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash, The Athletic reported Monday. 

    Durant and Tsai spoke in London over the weekend, and The Athletic reported that the tone of the meeting was professional. 

    Durant has four years and $198 million left on the contract extension he signed last summer but made his trade demands public over a month ago on June 30. 

    The 12-time All-Star set the NBA world ablaze by demanding a trade, but no team has been able to pull off the massive deal to bring Durant to a new contender. 

    Earlier this summer, Durant said that he wanted to end up either with the Miami Heat or the Phoenix Suns, but the Nets now have some hope of keeping the two-time Finals MVP. 

    That is, if Tsai is willing to upend the franchise's leadership structure. 

    Durant, who will turn 34 before the start of next season, has played a total of 90 regular season games since signing with Brooklyn in 2019. 

    The much-anticipated trio of Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden played only 10 games together.

    Harden was traded for massive question mark Ben Simmons, Irving's future is unclear, and now the Nets are now at a massive organisational crossroads. 

  • Deschamps confident Pogba will make World Cup, dismisses Zidane talk Deschamps confident Pogba will make World Cup, dismisses Zidane talk

    Didier Deschamps remains confident Paul Pogba will be fit to play a big role for France at the World Cup despite missing the start of the season through injury.

    Pogba sustained a knee problem in pre-season after returning to Juventus from Manchester United on a free transfer.

    There were early suggestions surgery could see the World Cup winner miss Qatar 2022, but he has opted instead for therapy that aims to ensure a far swifter return.

    Pogba is set to again be paired with N'Golo Kante in the France midfield in November, although the Chelsea man has not been without his own injury issues in recent seasons.

    "We're talking about players who are in high demand – two players who have a big experience, leaders," Deschamps told Le Parisien of the duo.

    "It is important that they are there, but we are never safe – hence the need to prepare younger players.

    "I am obviously in contact with Paul. His participation in the World Cup, today, is not questioned."

    Antoine Griezmann is another player still seen as key to Deschamps' plans, despite scoring only three goals in LaLiga last season.

    "He's not a robot. Obviously the head controls the legs," Deschamps explained. "But every player encounters, sooner or later, a period of playing less well.

    "This translates, then, into a loss of confidence.

    "Antoine has had high-intensity seasons. Before his physical issue at the beginning of the year [a thigh injury], he had always been spared from injuries during his career.

    "A few months earlier, he had changed clubs. External elements may also have impacted it.

    "I know him well. He has a big mind. He needed to regenerate and will do everything to return to his best level. He represents a plus for the France team."

    For now the focus is on getting France in the best condition heading into the World Cup, even as former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane continues to be linked to Deschamps' job.

    The France boss, for his part, is not worried, saying: "I've always put the France team above me, above everything.

    "Today, the place is not free, since I occupy it with my staff. Afterwards, everyone has the freedom to say what he wants and how he wants. On me, it has no impact.

    "The interest, today, for the players and the whole squad, is to be efficient at the World Cup. Anything that can defeat this common goal is not necessarily a good thing."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.