Saturday, July 13, 2024

USA Basketball director addresses Jaylen Brown omission from team

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USA Basketball once again has a loaded roster when it comes to its men’s team for the Paris Olympics. But there was a surprise omission from the team: Jaylen Brown. The Celtics star is coming off a career-best season, which included the 2024 title and NBA Finals MVP, but Brown didn’t end up making the cut for the Americans.

After Kawhi Leonard withdrew from the team, Brown’s absence was again magnified. Brown also took to social media as to appeared to take some shots at USA Basketball and Nike. USA Basketball managing director Grant Hill addressed Brown’s omission before the Americans took on Canada in an exhibition game Wednesday in Las Vegas. Hill also joked that he wore Fila throughout his playing career, so it wasn’t quite Nike’s influence keeping Brown off the roster.

“This is about putting together a team,” Hill told reporters. “Just kind of overall, you have incredible interest from an abundance of talent that we have here in the United States. I’ve talked a little about when we assembled this roster. You have 12 spots; you have to build a team. 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.”

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“Guys who have been Finals MVPs,” Hill continued. “Guys who have been part of the program. Guys who have 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, a team that fits, a team that will give us the best opportunity for success. Whatever theories that might be out there, they’re just that.”

As Hill pointed out, there are only so many spots to go around for a powerhouse country. USA Basketball is once again expected to snag the gold medal on both the men’s and women’s sides. For the men, they’ve captured gold in seven of the last eight Olympics. They also feature some notable names like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and others who are looking for gold in Paris.

C’s teammate Derrick White ended up replacing Leonard on the team, so Boston still gets some extra representation. USA Basketball also already features Jayson Tatum and Jrue Holiday, both of whom won gold at the Tokyo Olympics three years ago. So 25% of the 12-man roster comes from the same team in the reigning champs, even if Brown didn’t end up on the squad.

“But that’s my responsibility,” Hill said. “And it’s tough. It’s tough to have conversations, tell people that they’re not on the team. I know I talked about that in the past. But I just think that speech in general. I’m trying to win and I’m trying to put together the right pieces that fit and give us a chance to win.”

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