The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup is set to start on August 31st, as Team USA starts to prepare to face the rest of the world.
Training camp finally started on Monday, August 5th for Team USA, as the 15-member team got together for the first time. The team is highlighted by recent champion Kyle Lowry, new Celtic Kemba Walker, and Donovan Mitchell, among others. One of those others is the Los Angeles Lakers’ very own Kyle Kuzma, who is getting the huge honor of playing for Team USA going into only his third NBA season.
In addition to the honor of wearing “USA” on his chest, Kuzma also is blessed with the opportunity to work closely with some of the best basketball coaches in the country in the next few weeks. Those coaches include assistants Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Villanova Wildcats head coach Jay Wright, and Team USA’s head coach, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. Kuzma discussed playing under Popovich for the next few weeks, saying this:
He’s my favorite coach of all time. Growing up, I’m a hoops junkie, watching a lot of the Spurs teams and he’s won. He’s won at every level he’s been at. So, to be here and learn, to be around him, it’s really great.
[On what he hopes to learn from Popovich]
A little bit of everything. He’s been around the game for years and years and years, so I want to be a sponge. Not just Pop, we have Jay Wright here, Steve Kerr, so many great coaches. To learn from everyone is going to help me out tremendously.
Alright, now that all the Lakers fans who read that are done throwing up, let’s get into Kuzma’s comments.
That’s definitely high praise coming from Kuzma, saying that Popovich is his favorite coach of all-time. It’s not surprising, as the only head coach of Kuzma’s lifetime to even be worth mentioning alongside Popovich is Phil Jackson. Of course, Lakers fans might take offense that Kuzma didn’t list Jackson as his favorite coach of all-time, but Popovich has had just as much success in the past couple decades, if not more.
Kuzma emphasizes how much having Popovich as well as Wright and Kerr around him for a few weeks can help him. It continues to be a summer full of high praise from many parties about Kuzma. We will see if he deserves all of it once the summer starts, but this time with great basketball minds should definitely help.