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Team USA camp opens while Love, Adebayo open up

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

Not many complaints were made from fans who were closely watching when the US national team released this year’s roster for the Tokyo Olympics.

Except for one, Cleveland forward Kevin Love.

“Listen, I’ve been the odd-man out really since 2014-15,” Love said. “This isn’t new to me. I was somebody who's always had to step up, always had to deal with that adversity. “In a way, I understand it. I came off a season where I didn’t play that many games and wasn’t at the top of my game [...] I feel like I have a lot to prove but that’s coming into every season.”

Love, 32, was one of the 12-men named to the Team USA roster that opened camp Tuesday, July 6 in Las Vegas on the campus of UNLV.

“Right after the season ended I didn’t really take any time off,” he said. “I continued to rehab and stay in shape -- just to keep myself ready. My number was called for USAB and obviously we had a couple of guys that went down with injuries throughout the playoffs but I just continued to work my way into shape not knowing if the call was going to come.”

With his 13 years logged in the NBA, Love is relying on his experience during this camp and beyond.

“When I got asked to play it was an emphatic ‘yes,’” Love said. “Just having experience and coming off a year that was pretty tough for me and finally those last four or five games I was playing in, feeling really good.

“I finally was getting over that last hurdle of my injury and now feeling great I thought it was a great opportunity for me to play high-level basketball and have that transition into this next season.”

Love is coming off a season where he played in 25 games for the Cavaliers while battling through injuries.

Cleveland general manager Koby Altman previously said this was a “significant offseason” for the five-time all-star.

“I feel like every offseason is a significant offseason for me or for anybody,” Love said. “I think more so his context and intent -- yeah, I think it was a little bit of a challenge -- maybe not even a challenge, that’s the wrong word.

“Just wanting me to get healthy and be myself. I think that’s just a conversation that we had throughout the year.”

On Love’s road to a successful comeback, San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich gets the first crack at it with Team USA.

“I think the thing most of us took away last night and this morning was that these national teams from all over the world have been together not only for the last week and a half, two weeks but some of them since they were 14, 15 and 16 years old playing professionally,” Love said.

He also expounded on the team’s advanced chemistry even on day one of training camp.

“Most of us haven’t shared the floor too much together, maybe on a previous USA team or on an all-star team or something of that nature,” Love said. “But it felt like today, we’ve been playing together for quite a long time.”

Team USA will have a select team coached by a championship coach in Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat.

One Team USA player in particular is reveling in the chance to match wits with his NBA coach.

“It’s great because you get a different point of view,” Heat forward Bam Adebayo said. “It’s going to be good just seeing him running different schemes against me and us running different schemes against him. It’s going to be a great competition because in practice me and Spo go at it.”

Adebayo is in camp with Team USA for the second consecutive time after being cut from the team in 2019.

He was vocal in being upset over the dismissal in the months after.

“It’s just a chip [on my shoulder],” Adebayo said. “I’ve always excelled when I had a chip or if I had something more motivating me. Being cut was a motivation for me because like I said before, ‘I should’ve been on the team.’ I got this opportunity now so it’s time to show why I got this opportunity.”

Representing the “252,” in his words, Adebayo is savoring the chance to represent North Carolina on a national stage.

“It means a lot,” he said. “I get to wear the USA on my chest and compete against different countries. I get to see a different side of the world also so it’s a great opportunity.

“It’ll be great to get the gold medal because I’m not only representing the USA, I’m representing my family, my team, my city and everybody’s counting on me so it’s a big responsibility.”

Now staring at a second chance with Team USA, Adebayo is ready for whatever minutes or whatever role may come his way.

“That’s one thing I do in the offseason, I put my body through the ringer so I can be prepared for whatever task I have at hand,” he said. “I feel like I’m prepared, I’ve put in the work. The ultimate goal is to go out there and get the gold.”

Last year around this time, Adebayo was with his Heat teammates in the midst of an NBA Finals run.

“That’s one thing through the year, you never know what can happen,” Adebayo said. “You never know the kind of season you’re going to have and that showed me anything can happen in that next year.”

This season’s NBA Finals presents another unique situation as three members from this year’s Olympic roster are not with the team in pursuit of a league championship.

Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are away along with Phoenix’s Devin Booker.


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