During the flow of the NBA season, some of the league’s stars can seem alternately tone-deaf, selfish, greedy, individualistic and arrogant. During the last two Olympics, as those stars become Team USA, their personalities have changed dramatically.
Sometimes their wardrobes change, too.
After helping guide the US to a 98-71 victory over France on Sunday at the Olympic Park Basketball Arena, US star LeBron James did not display the kind of look-at-me fashion sense he and his peers showed off during the NBA playoffs.
He wore a baseball cap, sweatshirt, backpack and three pins on his chest. All contained the phrase ``USA Basketball.’’
``We understand that every time we take the floor it’s not about the name across our back, it’s about the name across our best,’’ James said. ``We want to represent the US the right way.’’
The US team lacks inside height and depth. It plans to win with pressure defense, fast breaks, and interchangeable parts on offense.
After leading just 22-21 after the first quarter, the US’s defensive intensity and depth wore down the French. James took just six shots and scored nine points, but he was a force on defense and had eight of his team’s 27 assists.
``I thought we did a good job defensively,’’ said US coach Mike Krzyzewski. ``We shared the ball, assisted on 27 of our 31 buckets. This is a good first step for us.’’
Kevin Durant, in his first Olympic game, led all scorers with 22 points, and Kevin Love scored 14 points in just 14 minutes.
Spurs star Tony Parker scored 10 points for France and was able to get into the lane early in the game, but the US’s physical defense caused him to finish 4-for-11 from the field.
`That team is like a Gemini," said France center Ronny Turiaf. "They have two faces, a nightmare-nightmare."
The US forced 18 turnovers but committed 14 itself in a sloppy, foul-plagued game that felt like an exhibition.
``They put pressure on you, and try to get you to take bad shots and make decisions, and they want to get out and run,’’ said France forward Florent Pietrus. ``They run a lot, and they shoot good, and they play 2000 percent.’’
After the game, the US players paraded to the stands to hug First Lady Michelle Obama, then paraded through the interview ``mix zone,’’ wearing their USA gear.
``We don’t want anybody on this team to change,’’ James said. ``We just want them to adapt.’’
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