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Gregg Popovich: ‘I would have begged, cried, done anything’ to get Kevin Durant on Team USA

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Nets star Kevin Durant with Team USA before Tokyo Olympics

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 6: Head Coach Gregg Popovich of Team USA talks to players Kevin Love #11 and Kevin Durant #7 during USAB Mens National Team practice at the Mendenhall Center on July 6, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

With no All-NBA first-teamers, only one All-NBA second-teamer (Damian Lillard) and one All-NBA third-teamer (Bradley Beal), Team USA is relatively low on star power for the Tokyo Olympics.

But 2021 All-NBA selections aren’t a great way to measure the Americans’ roster.

Because they have Kevin Durant.

Durant missed all of the previous season with a torn Achilles. He also missed most of the Nets’ regular-season games this season (costing him All-NBA). But he’s arguably the best player in the world, and he’s headed to Tokyo.

Team USA coach Gregg Popovich:

If he said no, I would have begged, cried, done anything I could to change his mind. That’s pretty obvious. But what it says about him, number one, is that he loves the game. He really loves to play basketball. He loves to win. He loves the camaraderie. He wants to be part of this all the time, as we all know. And that’s his motivation. At the core, that’s what he loves to do. And luckily for all of us, that’s who he is. So it’s a testament to his character and just desire to be part of a team and have a challenge and seek the success.

It’s surprising Durant is playing in the Olympics, given his health history. But he loves basketball.

Popovich clearly appreciates the attitude.

Of course, Popovich also appreciates having such a talented player on the team as the U.S. chases a gold medal.