JORDAN AIMS TO LEARN FROM TEAM USA EXPERIENCE
Last time Clippers center DeAndre Jordan wore a Team USA uniform he was a teenager in Serbia for the Under-19 World Championships leaving the court following a surprising five-point loss to the host nation in the tournament’s final round.
Fast forward six summers, a one-year stop at Texas A&M and an ascension from second-round pick to three-year NBA starter, and Jordan is back with USA Basketball.
“That (Serbia) was my first time playing with the USA team,” Jordan said while icing his knees after the opening practice of Team USA’s mini-camp at Mendenhall Center on the campus of UNLV. “But to come back at the highest level and play is an honor.”
Jordan is one of 28 players, including three 2013 All-Stars, in Las Vegas for the four-day camp that culminates with a public showcase Thursday at Thomas & Mack Center.
“The first practice was how I thought it was going to be,” Jordan said. “It was intense, a lot of learning.”
On Monday Jordan was teamed with Paul George, Jrue Holiday, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Tyler Zeller and Kenneth Faried on one of four teams of seven. They scrimmaged and worked and learned for more than two hours before meeting with the media.
Jordan is the third Clippers player to be involved with Team USA in the last calendar year. In the summer of 2012, the men’s national team, which included Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, worked out in Las Vegas for a week. Griffin made the team, but was forced to withdraw from the Olympics after sustaining a knee injury. Paul went on to win his second gold medal in London.
This summer, after Paul and Griffin were in Las Vegas to watch the Clippers’ Summer League opener, the duo left for China on a six-day, four-city promotional tour with Jordan Brand. Even while they were halfway across the world, it didn’t stop Jordan from eagerly reaching out to them about what to expect.
“I was blowing their phones up while they were in China just trying to ask them how it was and the practice schedule,” Jordan said. “They told me I was just going to have a good time. It was just going to be a lot of younger guys, our age, playing. And really just learning and getting ready for the next two years here.”
It is not merely about getting ready for the next two years with Team USA either. Griffin and Paul have said many times that the experience with the Team USA program helped further develop their NBA game and Jordan hopes it will do the same.
After averaging a career-high 8.8 points per game and setting the franchise record for field goal percentage (.643) in 2012-13, Jordan said his offseason regimen includes becoming a better post player, all-around defender and shooter.
“I think it will definitely help me,” Jordan said of his time with Team USA. “With a lot of the coaches and the talent that we have here, it’s going to definitely have you playing at the highest level. And you just need to learn as much as possible.”
If he does that, and his ascension continues, Jordan may not be forced to wait six years before donning the USA jersey for a third time.