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Why wouldn’t you want to go to China with Gregg Popovich?

Updated: Aug 20, 2019

Yesterday, Marvin Bagley withdrew his name from consideration for Team USA’s FIBA World Cup roster, which begins August 31, in China. He plans to focus solely on the Kings, who have a real chance to go only slightly under .500 this season. 

In an international tournament, for a country that produces the deepest talent pool in the world, a second-year player dropping out probably shouldn’t matter. 

But, in 2019, it kinda does. It’s become en vogue to pass on playing for Gregg Popovich and Team USA this summer. Even Landry Shamet is doing the Homer Simpson fade.

With the tournament 19 days away, this field of 16 will eventually make up the 12-man roster: 

  • De’Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton, Joe Harris, Kyle Kuzma, Kyle Lowry, Donovan Mitchell, Mason Plumlee, P.J. Tucker, Myles Turner and Derrick White, Bagley’s replacement.  

That’s … not a very good crew!

There are/is: 

  • Three lower-level All-Stars in Walker, Lowry and Middleton. 

  • A Plumlee brother. 

  • Admittedly, some exciting young players in Fox, Tatum, Kuzma and Mitchell. 

  • One Marcus Osmond Smart. 

The World Cup team in 2014 was much more star-oriented, even if that team also included a Plumlee:

So, why? 

What these players are passing on:

  • A chance to work with and pick the brain of Gregg Popovich, who ain’t gunna be around forever.

  • An all expenses paid trip to China.

  • An opportunity to grow their personal #brand in the Chinese market of 500 million basketball fans.

But don’t worry, we have the solution

Over the last 16 years, who has represented Team USA with more class and dignity than… Carmelo Anthony?!

It’s still worth watching, though

No, we won’t be watching an All-Star team that dominates through sheer talent. But…

  • We will probably be watching Marcus Smart mentally violate some poor point guard from Venezuela.

  • There’s plenty to be excited about if you’re a Celtics fan, mostly the fact that Tatum and Brown will be playing basketball Kyrie-free.

  • De’Aaron Fox is a future star, who has a gravity to his personality that’ll be on display throughout the tournament.


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