Circus arrives in Rio as NBA stars leave reporters flummoxed

New Golden State Warriors teammates Draymond Green, left, and Kevin Durant work through shooting drills during Team USA basketball practice. Photo / AP.
New Golden State Warriors teammates Draymond Green, left, and Kevin Durant work through shooting drills during Team USA basketball practice. Photo / AP.

The presence of the US men's basketball team at the Olympics is often described as a circus and during their first media availability in Rio on Friday a couple of clowns emerged.

Witnessing the cream of the NBA up close isn't just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for fans in Brazil, it can also be a little overwhelming for some among the enormous contingent of international media.

One journalist was on the end of a tongue-lashing from a Team USA staffer after asking shooting guard DeMar DeRozan for an autograph as the half hour session - during which players were posted around the room to be interviewed individually - was called to an end. "Come on, man, be professional," the staffer yelled. "We're not doing signatures."

But he wasn't the only one to endure an awkward moment. Handed the final question with centre DeMarcus Cousins, this scribe was left in a state of confusion.


Online blog What's The Action picked up the moment and had a field day.

"That's it for this reporter right? Not just in Rio, but like, for his career ... you need to start a new life as a bank teller or fisherman or literally anything else besides journalist. It's over, dude."

'WHO? THE BOOMERS?'

The Aussies on hand made their presence felt too. One reporter attempted to hit forward Draymond Green with both barrels by asking: "How disappointed will you be when you lose to the Boomers?"

Unfortunately the Golden State Warriors star had no idea what he was talking about. "To who? The Boomers?" Green asked. When he was informed we were talking about Australia, the multi-talented big man refused to take the bait.


But Green did have some kind words for now former Warriors teammate Andrew Bogut. "I know what Bogut brings to a team, I know it well," Green said. "He brings a defensive presence - a very great defensive presence. He's a very athletic big man. A very skilled big man. And when I've seen him play earlier in his career in the Olympics he looks to score more. He brings a lot to a team and I'm sure they're happy to have him playing."

The nature of the session left the media with tough decisions to make. Did they fight for a position near the four players deemed high profile enough to warrant a place on the main stage - Carmelo Anthony, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Or did they take the safer option in front of lesser-known players like Kyle Lowry and DeAndre Jordan?

And what to ask? Which other Olympian do you look up to and would like to meet got a good run (Michael Phelps was the most popular answer) but most reporters were looking for a line about the player's opinions on their home country. At least a dozen were heard trying to coax out something specific without success - but there would have been many more fruitless attempts. "You can't take any team for granted," was the answer repeated ad nauseam.

Jordan came the closest to giving Australia props when he listed the green and gold among the teams he expected to provide stern tests. "Serbia's a good team, so is France, Spain is always good and Australia, those guys will be good competition," he said.

Team USA's 12-man squad will make a combined $235 million next season but behind their obscene salaries there's a real commitment to representing the red, white and blue. Most of these players were toddlers when the Dream Team transcended sport at the 1992 Olympics. Their impressionable teenage years were spent watching the Redeem Team, which reassumed America's dominance after the disaster in Athens.

"My first experience was (watching) Chauncey Billups and the rest of that team (in 2008)," centre DeMarcus Cousins said. "I saw it and I always wanted to be a part of it. I told myself 'I want to be on that team'. So my time is now."

"When I was younger I'd think about being an All-Star but now it's out of my mind," Jordan added. "This is way bigger than that ... to be able to be here with 11 of the best basketball players in the world is great."

The current version is yet to be handed a catchy nickname. After the blowouts they recorded in their warm-up games, perhaps Supreme Team is most suitable. "We don't have a name but I think this team's identity will come on the defensive end," Green said. "We get after it on that side of the ball and use that to create offence for us. We have some great scorers but when it's all said and done, I think this team will be known for its defence." How about Swat Team?

-News.com.au

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