Gregg Popovich defends Team USA after rough World Cup: Critics are ‘immature, arrogant’

Ryan Young
Yahoo Sports Contributor
Gregg Popovich stood by Team USA after its seventh-place finish at the FIBA World Cup, the team’s worst-ever showing in a World Cup or Olympics. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

It was a rough showing for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup this summer.

The United States, following an 87-74 win against Poland in Beijing on Saturday, finished in seventh place in the tournament — the team’s worst ever finish in a World Cup or Olympics.

Coach Gregg Popovich, however, isn’t here for any criticism coming his team’s way.

“Some people want to play the blame game. There’s no blame to be placed anywhere,” Popovich said Saturday, via ESPN. “They want to play the shame game, like we should be ashamed because we didn’t win a gold medal?

“That’s a ridiculous attitude. It’s immature, it’s arrogant, and it shows that whoever thinks that doesn’t respect all the other teams in the world and doesn’t respect that these guys did the best they could.”

Team USA struggled to fill its roster throughout the tournament, too. Many notable players skipped the tournament — which managing director Jerry Colangelo didn’t appreciate — and only had nine healthy players for the final game on Sunday after losing Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart to injuries.

Popovich, though, defended the players who he did have in China for his inaugural outing at the helm of the national team.

“Their effort was fantastic,” Popovich said, via ESPN. “They allowed us to coach them. You give people credit for what they did, and that’s it. But it’s not a blame and shame game. That’s ridiculous.”

A lot can, and probably should, happen in the coming months for USA Basketball as they prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics next summer.

Popovich, though, isn’t there yet. His focus, along with the rest of the players and coaches who made the trek across the Pacific Ocean for the tournament, will shift back to the NBA ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Naturally, that comes first.

“This isn’t really the time to even think about that,” Popovich said, via ESPN. “It’s 10 months away.”

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