Granger joins Miller as gold-medal Pacers
By Conrad Brunner
Danny Granger got his gold medal, becoming the first Pacers player to do so since Reggie Miller in the 1996 Olympics, as the U.S. dispatched host Turkey 81-64 in the final of the FIBA World Championship on Sunday.
Though he totaled just two minutes in the final three games of the event, the lack of opportunity did little to dampen his enthusiasm.
"It was an amazing feeling, you know, to set out what we wanted to do," Granger said. "A couple months ago we all set out to accomplish this. We did it and we won in good fashion. It's just a great feeling, especially the camaraderie we built as a team. …
"We all feel like brothers. We all play against each other in the regular season. Right now we're playing jokes with each other, hanging out all the time. It translated right onto the court. We played well together and won a World Championship."
Granger played the fewest minutes on the team (68 overall, 9.7 per game) and picked up two DNP-CDs. He averaged 4.1 points and shot just 12-of-30 overall. A prolific 3-point shooter from the NBA distance of 23-feet, 9-inches, he struggled from the closer international arc, hitting just 3-of-13.
Though this roster was dubbed the "B-Team" because it lacked the elite stars that led the U.S. to gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it was rarely challenged thanks largely to strong defense.
The U.S. yielded 68.2 points and .381 shooting in the tournament.
"I think that was the niche that we kind of figured out that we had," Granger said. "I think the coaches, Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) did a great job, saw that would be our biggest strength. We used it. We exploited other teams with our defensive pressure. It was just a great job on everybody's part."
Because of his limited playing time in the World Championship, the likely return of several members of the '08 roster for the 2012 games and the emergence of more young stars in the interim, it appears Granger's time with the U.S. team may have come to an end.
If this turns out to be his only experience, the gold medal – the first for the U.S. in this event since 1994 – made it positive.
"We now have a deeper pool," said Krzyzewski. "We have guys who were champions, a different team in the Olympics, and now guys who are world champs. There will be new players that will emerge. That's a good problem to have, is to choose amongst a lot of really good players.
"We're just so happy that so many United States players want to play for their country. It had kind of waned in that respect in the first part of this century. Now, you know, people want to be a part of it and recognize how important it is. So that's a good thing."