(AP) — Kevin Durant had been just ordinary so far in these
not good enough for gold.
Not on this
U.S. men’s basketball team, an unproven and for now still
Durant is the
top scorer to ever wear the red, white and blue, a player who has
been unstoppable on the international stage from the moment he
showed that off again Saturday night with 23 points in
the Americans’ 119-84
victory over the Czech Republic in their final game of
our third game of all us together,” guard Jrue Holiday said, “but
we knew KD would come in and do what he was supposed to do, do what
he always does.”
And just what
the U.S. needs.
are still learning each other and the international game, with
differences from the NBA in the way it’s played and officiated.
already mastered it. And now he can teach this group.
He doesn’t try
to be a vocal leader, relying more on the way he plays and
practices to set an example for his teammates.
three-time Olympian shared some stories about the opening
ceremonies or his other experiences to some of the newcomers, but
he’s not about to talk their ear off about how to play what he
calls a simple game.
basketball at the end of the day,” said Durant, who has played for
the U.S. as well as anyone who had ever done it — if not
He now has 354
points in his 19 Olympic games (18.6 per game), surpassing the 336
that Carmelo Anthony scored in his four Olympics.
hadn’t been sharp yet in Japan, shooting just 4-for-12 in the
opening loss to France and scoring 10 points in both games.
“I think it was
just a matter of time,” Holiday said.
weren’t sure of their chances at the world basketball championships
in 2010, after none of the veterans from the 2008 Olympic gold
medalists opted to play and left the Americans with a number of
players in their early 20s.
22.8 points and won tournament MVP honors as the Americans won gold
and he never slowed down once he made the Olympic roster two years
He scored 156
points in 2012 and 155 in 2016, finishing both tournaments with 30
points in the gold-medal game.
Though it would
become a blowout, the Americans were trailing early into the second
quarter Saturday before Durant heated up. His three-pointer with
6:18 remaining broke Anthony’s record and he followed by hitting
another on the next possession.
He kept rolling
into the third quarter and by then his teammates had loosened up
after their uneven start and surged into the quarterfinals with
Durant is still
a long way from the top scorers in Olympic history. Brazil’s Oscar
Schmidt scored 1,093 points and Andrew Gaze of Australia had 789.
Both of them appeared in five Olympics.
views himself as far more than a scorer, anyway. He finished with
eight rebounds and six assists, both team-highs, and also a blocked
shot that started a fastbreak while playing inside for an
undersized U.S. team.
In his first
season back from a ruptured Achilles tendon that forced him to miss
a season, Durant had to do it all for the Brooklyn Nets at the end
of the playoffs. Even though Kyrie Irving and James Harden were
both injured in the series, Durant carried the Nets to a Game 7
against eventual champion Milwaukee in the second round. He had 49
points and a triple-double in Game 6 and 48 points in Game 7.
He won’t have
to score that much on this U.S. team, but he’s ready to do whatever
“I’ve had a lot
asked of me for every team I played for since I was 8 years old,”
“I feel like I
have to be prepared to do everysingle thing on the court.”
That might just
be what it takes.