Kemba Walker believes in the United States men’s basketball team, even if others don’t.
The Boston Celtics point guard explained to reporters Tuesday why he’s happy several NBA superstars declined to play for the United States’ 2019 FIBA World Cup team. The withdrawals of Anthony Davis, James Harden, Bradley Beal and others not only created a new group dynamic, but it also presented other players — including Celtics guards Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart — with opportunities to compete for a spot on Team USA’s roster.
“I think a lot of us are happy those guys pulled out because this is our chance,” Walker said, per Sports Illustrated’s Michael Shapiro. “It’s our chance to get on the big stage and showcase our talent. A chance for us to do something new. It’ll be a new-look team. Everybody is kind of doubting us, but I think we’re hungry.”
Jayson Tatum joins Walker, Brown and Smart among the Celtics contingent at USA’s training camp.
Several NBA All-Stars’ exits from the national team program have dampened expectations ahead of the World Cup, which will take place between Aug. 31 and Sept. 15 in China.
But Walker and his hungry teammates intend to use doubts over the team’s prospects as fuel for USA’s quest for a third consecutive World Cup triumph.
Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports Images