Saturday, July 13, 2024

Team USA’s Grant Hill Explains Derrick White Pick over Jaylen Brown amid Kawhi Injury

Must read

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 07: USA Basketball Men's National Team Managing Director Grant Hill watches a practice session scrimmage during the team's training camp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 07, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Team USA men’s managing director Grant Hill said the selection of Boston Celtics guard Derrick White was made entirely for basketball-related purposes after the United States was forced to replace Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard.

“You have to build a team. And one of the hardest things is leaving people off the roster that I’m a fan of, that I look forward to watching throughout the season, throughout the playoffs,” Hill told reporters Wednesday.

“Guys who’ve been Finals MVP, guys who have been a part of the program, guys who’ve won gold medals. Guys who I respect, admire and enjoy watching. But the responsibility that I have is to put together a team and a team that complements each other.”

Celtics star Jaylen Brown seemingly didn’t hide his disappointment at being overlooked in favor of his Celtics teammate and insinuated Nike may have influenced USA Basketball’s decision:

Jaylen Brown @FCHWPO

🧐🧐🧐

Hill denied that was the case:

Nike has been the longtime apparel provider for the U.S. national basketball team. Brown, for his part, has been an outspoken critic of the company in recent years.

In 2022, the three-time All-Star wrote, “Since when did Nike care about ethics?” when the company distanced itself from Kyrie Irving after he promoted an antisemitic film on Twitter. He has maintained his cold war with Nike by obscuring the company’s signature “Swoosh” or removing it altogether from his sneakers:

KicksFinder @KicksFinder

Jaylen Brown shows his Nike Kobe 6s “Reverse Grinch” without the swoosh, he wore today for the NBA Christmas game 🎄🏀 pic.twitter.com/3uIjxv2b5p

Brown certainly had a case for inclusion on Team USA. He was a key cog in the Celtics’ championship run, earning MVP honors in both the Eastern Conference Finals and NBA Finals.

In a vacuum, Brown is certainly the superior individual player to White.

The general anger over the former’s absence has ignored what the latter brings to the table. The 6’4″ guard is a plus defender, having earned second-team All-Defensive nods over each of the last two years. He’s also more suited to occupy an off-ball role, something U.S. coach Steve Kerr needs with so much talent at his disposal.

It’s not 1992 anymore. The rest of the world has closed the gap on the United States to the point where it may not be as simple as Team USA rolling the ball out and winning on pure talent.

Hill, Kerr and the rest of the selection committee have to assemble what they believe is the best team possible, and that’s not the same thing as picking the best players.

Brown’s disappointment is understandable. He’s still waiting for his first crack at the Summer Olympics and this might’ve been his best shot. He’ll be 31 when the 2028 Summer Games roll around in Los Angeles.

Still, the massive depth of talent within the American player pool means difficult decisions will always have to be made when it’s time for a major tournament. There were valid reasons to leave off Brown without delving into unfounded theories.

Latest article