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Bird on USA Basketball: "Opportunity to Showcase Their Talents"

by Greg Rappaport Writer

It’s been just over 22 years since Larry Bird and Dream Team steamrolled their way to a gold medal in Barcelona, helping ignite an international love of basketball in the process.

One might think the injury to Paul George’s leg, which occurred during a Team USA scrimmage in preparation of the 2014 FIBA World Cup, would put a damper on team president Bird’s enthusiasm for international play. However, in Tuesday’s press conference Bird only reaffirmed his support for the players participating in international competitions.

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“Personally, I think it’s good for these young men,” Bird said. “They’re a brand now, and they get an opportunity to showcase their talents all over the world.”

Since George’s injury, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant has removed himself from Team USA’s roster, citing fatigue, and the debate over whether or not players should be participating in international tournaments during the offseason has been rekindled.

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“It’s unfortunate this is gonna bring everything to the forefront again about USA basketball,” Bird said, “And it’s not a good situation, but it happened, and we move on. But I support what [director of USA basketball] Jerry Colangelo is trying to do.”

Bird, a fierce competitor in all endeavors, firmly believes that if you field a team, it had better be the best available.

“You send your best players to play in the Olympics, the World Cups, and everything else,” he said. “If you’re gonna play in them, send your best.”