Olympics 2012: USA Basketball Practice

Before I went on this journalistic assignment, friends would throw out the occasional joke like “get me Kobe’s autograph” or “tell Kevin Durant I said hi”. I laughed. I was all over the USA Basketball beat and from communication with press coordinators and USOC PR, I came to the conclusion that meeting NBA players would be outside the realm of impossiblity. I am so happy to say I was wrong.

Yesterday, through the magic of my professor Chris Taylor, I was able to attend The USA Basketball Team’s practice and interview coaches and players. Just typing this now, I still feel like it didn’t really happen.

We get in the gym of The University Of East London. Sitting in a chair was Kobe Bryant. Next to him, Brian Westbrook and James Harden of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The task: fight ESPN, CBS, and all the other media present for questions.

It turned out to be a lot more relaxed than I anticipated. While players like Kevin Love, Andre Iguodala, Chris Paul, and Derron Williams were just shooting around, I could walk right up to them and get a few bites.

Pretty much all the players had great attitudes and answered all my questions. My favorite interview was Tyson Chandler. He’s just a funny guy. He joked about me being so vertically challenged. He was a giant compared to me.

My least favorite was Anthony Davis. I’d ask him a question and I couldn’t focus on what he was saying. I think it was that unibrow.

For me, interviewing Kevin Durant and Coach K were the most difficult. KD is my favorite NBA player. The fact that we could chat was unfathomable to me. I had to collect myself and stay professional before I went into super fanboy mode. And Coach K just has this mystique around him. I have so much respect for the man. He’s so calm. Very inviting and cordial with the media. And for all his accomplishments, he is so very humble. Just another reason for me to favor Duke over North Carolina.

For those that know me, you may be curious to know about my interactions with LeBron James. I am a Cavaliers fan after all. Sadly, I didn’t have any. No one really did. He stayed on the floor and stretched the whole time. My impressions of Lebron James after I attended USA Basketball Practice are the same as they were before.

Such a remarkable experience. Check out the video on the Olympics 2012 page and on http://www.bsuatthegames.com

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