As a Celtics-heavy Team USA arrived in Las Vegas to start training camp practices under Gregg Popovich, Kemba Walker and the rest of his new Boston teammates are excited to have the opportunity, following many of the big-name stars backing out earlier this summer.
“I love basketball. I love to play. And what better opportunity to do that than to play for your country?” Walker said Monday, after Team USA’s first day of training camp on the UNLV campus.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a lot of us,” he added. “I think a lot of us are happy those guys pulled out. This is our chance, this is our chance to get on the big stage and showcase our talents. It’s a chance for us to do something new, to be a new-look team.”
Although some of the top NBA stars aren’t on this year’s team, the Celtics players have been vocal about what an honor it is to be a part of Team USA. Boston currently has four players on the training camp roster, including Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart.
“We have a lot of guys that nobody probably even talks about, even knows,” Smart said. “We’re able to get our faces shown… USA Basketball, to me, that’s something that’s really important.”
“We’re playing for something greater than ourselves,” Smart added. “We’re going against [other countries] that have been playing together for years, and they’ve already built that camaraderie. We’re taking a group of guys that have probably never even played with one another and … [learning to] act like a team, become a team. It’s not easy. But we know we can do it.”
The official, 12-member roster for the 2019 USA Basketball Men’s World Cup Team will be announced August 17. But if all four Celtics players make it, that would mean Boson would account for one third of Team USA.
Though, they never would’ve had this opportunity if bigger stars hadn’t dropped out in the first place. In addition to being able to play with some of his new teammates, Walker made it clear that Team USA is a big honor, despite others opting out.
“This is USA Basketball, this is a huge achievement,” Walker said. “It’s a huge honor to be a part of this.”
Training camp in Las Vegas will continue through August 8, leading up to an exhibition game between USA White and USA Blue on August 9.
Full article @ Celtics’ Kemba Walker is glad stars backed out of Team USA, chance to be ‘new-look team’
Source: GreenStreet Blog