“It’s to the point now where us in the U.S. are going win some, we’re going lose some. And that’s just how it goes,” Byrant said.
Lakers legend Kobe Bryant believes Team USA is going to continue to face big losses on the international stage because the rest of the world “has been caught up [to the U.S.] for quite some time.”
“It’s to the point now where us in the U.S. are going win some, we’re going lose some. And that’s just how it goes,” Byrant told ESPN after Team USA suffered back-to-back losses at the FIBA World Cup earlier this week.
The Americans lost 94-89 to Serbia on Thursday, a day after falling 89-79 to France. Team USA now faces a seventh-place game Saturday against Poland, and regardless of the outcome, the U.S. will go home with the worst tournament showing in program history. It previously finished sixth at the 2002 world championships.
One hurdle USA Basketball and managing director Jerry Colangelo faced while putting together the roster was the fact that many NBA superstars withdrew their invitation to play in the tournament, marking an unprecedented move that left Colangelo and the rest of USA Basketball scrambling to fill roster spots.
Only four out of 35 players initially invited to represent Team USA in the World Cup actually played in China, the Associated Press notes.
“I hear that a lot: ‘Did we send the best possible team that we can put out there?'” Bryant said before defending those stars who opted not to represent Team USA this summer.
“Some of those guys haven’t had the opportunity to play for the United States, so I’m sure if their health allowed them to, they certainly would’ve been over here playing. But a lot of those guys are coming off of serious injuries and trying to figure out how to navigate through that to get healthy again and back to 100 percent. Other guys are moving, moving to different cities and getting their families to settle in. It’s a big adjustment for families, so I certainly understand it.”
After Team USA’s loss Thursday, Colangelo hinted that there will be some hard feelings against those who backed out of playing in the 2019 tournament when the time comes to start putting together the roster for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I can only say, you can’t help but notice and remember who you thought you were going to war with and who didn’t show up,” Colangelo told reporters. “No one would have anticipated the pullouts that we had.”