Tokyo Olympics: Kevin Durant 'so proud' as he lifts Team USA to gold glory again

By Sports Desk August 07, 2021

Kevin Durant said it felt "incredible" after he won a third gold medal and helped Team USA reach four in a row at the Olympics.

The men's basketball tournament looked primed for a potential shock when the United States team lost to France in their opening group game at Tokyo 2020, yet it came full circle as victory over the same opposition in Saturday's final tied up another success at the Games.

The USA won 87-82 against a French side who gave them trouble all game long, but a game-high 29 points from Durant carried Gregg Popovich's team to top spot on the podium.

"I'm so proud of this team," Durant said. "The coaching staff prepared us so well every single day, even some days when we didn't feel like practising but it was worth it at the end. I’m so glad. I’m ready to go home and celebrate.

"I love our country and this team is just amazing, it’s just incredible.

"How we came together. The adversity that we went through, so many people doubting us early on too. We get that support from our families, our friends, you know it’s bigger than us. We wanted to come here finish it and look alive."

Pre-Olympics defeats to Australia and Nigeria, followed by the France loss when competition began, hinted at major shortcomings in Popovich's ranks.

A host of withdrawals from the planned original roster meant this was a depleted team, but Durant proved to be a driving force throughout the tournament.

"This one feels good because we went through a lot," said the Brooklyn Nets superstar.

"We had a lot of first-time guys on the team, new experience for everyone on the team, COVID, the kind of bubble we were in, no fans, no one expecting us to lose.

"We heard it all over the past few weeks about our team. To fight through this adversity against a great team like these guys ... to come together so fast – it was beautiful to see, it was beautiful to be a part of."

There was widespread acclaim for Durant's on-court leadership.

Draymond Green earned a second Olympic gold and said Durant had "carried" the USA to gold, rating the 32-year-old as the greatest player in the history of the team.

"He's been special," Green said. "He is one of the best players to ever play this game, one of the most special guys you have ever seen lace their shoes and take the basketball court.

"He carried this team like we needed him to, like he was supposed to. Coming back for his third Olympics, all-time USA scorer, there's been a lot of great players to don this jersey – he is number one. That’s a special thing."

Jrue Holiday, who added the gold medal to his NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks, also raved about Durant.

Holiday said: "Doing it on the world stage and doing it against different countries and actually being on his team now has been pretty cool to see – how he carries the game, carries his teammates and takes over a game.”

Bam Adebayo said Durant had been "phenomenal", adding: "The thing I like about Kevin the most, he's one of the greatest scorers in our league but also he's a genuine person. People try to bash him in the media but he's one of those guys that got your back 24/7. Being around him, being around this group of guys, we created a brotherhood."

Related items

  • 'He's just been in attack mode' – Davis lauds in-form Lakers star Westbrook 'He's just been in attack mode' – Davis lauds in-form Lakers star Westbrook

    Anthony Davis says Russell Westbrook's aggression has been key to his return to form for the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Westbrook, a Los Angeles native, signed for his hometown team ahead of the 2021-22 season, having spent last campaign with the Washington Wizards.

    The nine-time All-Star struggled at the start of his Lakers career, but is averaging 23.5 points, 8.9 assists and 6.9 rebounds across the past eight games.

    He turned in a star performance on Tuesday as the Lakers claimed a convincing 117-102 victory over rivals the Boston Celtics.

    Westbrook accumulated 24 points and provided 11 assists, and only Davis (24.1) and LeBron James (25.9) are averaging more points per game this season for the Lakers than the 33-year-old (20.4).

    "I think at the beginning of the year, Russ was a little bit passive," Davis said, as reported by ESPN.

    "He was trying to get guys involved, pass the ball. We told him, 'The more you're aggressive, the more it will open up for everyone else.'

    "The last seven to 10 games, he's been very, very aggressive, and when he does that, it opens up the floor for everyone else as far as shooting.

    "He's just been in attack mode. That's why we brought him here, to be Russell Westbrook and not anybody else but that."

    Westbrook is well aware of the storied rivalry with the Celtics, given his Los Angeles upbringing.

    "As a player like myself, you want to make sure you approach all games the same while also understanding the significance of this particular game," Westbrook said.

    "That makes it a good win for us."

    The Lakers are sixth in the Western Conference with a 13-12 record, while the Celtics (also 13-12) sit 10th in the East.

    "We're disappointed as far as we were outhustled, out-toughed a little bit," Boston coach Ime Udoka said.

    "It hasn't happened in a long time. They would put their head down, get to the basket and get whatever they wanted. We're better than that defensively, but a lack of effort and a lack of toughness showed tonight."

  • Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum diagnosed with collapsed lung Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum diagnosed with collapsed lung

    The Portland Trail Blazers have revealed CJ McCollum suffered a collapsed right clunk in a defeat to the Boston Celtics last weekend.

    McCollum was injured in the final quarter of an emphatic 145-117 loss at the hands of the Celtics on Saturday.

    The guard missed a 102-90 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday and a scan revealed the extent of the damage done.

    Portland stated that McCollum, who is averaging 20.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists this season, will be out indefinitely.

    The 30-year-old joins All-Star Damian Lillard (abdominal injury), Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little (both ankle) on the sidelines.  

    Portland also lost guard Ben McLemore to a hip injury during the defeat to the Clippers, while center Cody Zeller is struggling with a bruised right quad.

  • Nets rally to avoid back-to-back losses behind Harden and Durant, LeBron follows in MJ's footsteps Nets rally to avoid back-to-back losses behind Harden and Durant, LeBron follows in MJ's footsteps

    The Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets overturned a double-digit deficit to top the slumping Dallas Mavericks 102-99 in the NBA.

    Dallas led by 17 points in the third quarter on Tuesday before the Nets rallied behind superstar pair James Harden and Kevin Durant.

    Harden put up 23 points and 12 assists, while Durant posted 24 points to help the Nets avoid back-to-back defeats, having squandered a double-digit advantage against the Chicago Bulls.

    Brooklyn have now won six straight road games. Entering the contest, they owned an 8-2 (80.0) record away from home this season – the franchise's best road record through 10 games all-time, according to Stats Perform.

    The result condemned Luka Doncic's Mavericks to a fifth successive home defeat, while Dallas have dropped eight of their past 10 games.

    Mavericks star Doncic finished with 28 points, nine assists and six rebounds.

     

    Lakers take down Celtics

    The Los Angeles Lakers' big three all starred in a 117-102 victory over the Boston Celtics. LeBron James had a team-high 30 points, Russell Westbrook had 24 points and 11 assists, and Anthony Davis scored 17 points to go with 16 rebounds. James has tallied 155 points in his last five games. According to Stats Perform, the only other player in NBA history to score that many points over a five-game span aged 36 or older is Michael Jordan.

     

    Another off night for Randle

    While the New York Knicks beat the San Antonio Spurs 121-109, All-Star Julius Randle endured another rough outing. Often the instigator for the Knicks, Randle made just five of his 12 shots from the field for 15 points in 35 minutes. Knicks team-mate Evan Fournier was three-of-eight shooting in a seven-point performance.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.