Team USA holds first practice in D.C.
The U.S. men’s basketball team practiced in Washington, D.C., for the first time Saturday in preparation for the London Olympics after having its initial training camp in Las Vegas.
More than 3,000 military members and their families watched the practice as it was part of the Hoops for Troops program.
“We hope in some way we can give back to our country during this short Olympic period. … We want to thank you for a lifetime of service,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said, according to USA Today.
Krzyzewski graduated from Army in 1969 and is friends with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Dempsey attended the practice.
Aside from some defensive drills, the practice was fairly light.
No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Hornets practiced for the first time as an official team member. He filled in for Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, who is out with a knee injury.
“I look forward to playing with and against these guys,” Davis said. “This is a great experience. I’ve wanted to play on the U.S. team my whole life. Now I have the opportunity and am going to try and take full advantage of it. It’s sad to hear about Blake. He worked really hard to get here and deserved a spot. … I hope he has a nice and fast recovery.”
The military members in attendance gave the players a patch of the U.S. flag for their right shoulder after practice.
“The exchange of flags from the people who are actually serving our country on a day-to-day basis, we thought that was the single biggest gesture that they could give us in support of us and accepting them would be an honor,” Krzyzewski said. “Today was a special day.”
The U.S. squad plays Brazil on Monday at the Verizon Center. Then, the Americans depart for England for a brief training camp, which includes a game against Great Britain on July 19.
After that, the U.S. team travels to Spain from July 20-25 for games against Spain and Argentina. The U.S. opens Olympic competition in London against France on July 29.
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