LeBron, Carmelo, Durant and Blake Griffin Weigh in on Team USA’s Upcoming Test at 2012 Olympic Games

July 10, 2012 – 7:00 am by Eric Schmoldt

In 2008, Team USA Basketball was dubbed The Redeem Team during their quest to bounce back from a disappointing bronze medal showing in the 2004 Olympics and then a third-place finish in the 2006 World Championships during their eventual gold medal conquest at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

That motivation won’t be there this time around, but Carmelo Anthony — who was a part of that team — doesn’t seem to think the team will be lacking in that department. He and the guys who were around for that say they want to experience it again as this year’s roster includes some Olympic veterans as well as some players who will be representing Team USA in the Games  for the first time. Listen to several NBA stars talk about the end of the NBA season and what to expect in London this summer.

LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin and James Harden joined ESPN 1100 in Las Vegas with Seat Williams to discuss how their respective teams performed this past season, what they all learned from their playoff experiences, what they’re individually and collectively looking forward to in London, and what those of them who were on the team in ’08 think of this year’s national team heading off to London in search of gold yet again.

LeBron James on winning an NBA title:

“It’s a great feeling to be able to accomplish a dream of yours and I’m happy to be a champion at this point.”

What’s the difference between this year and four years ago when you participated in the Olympics?:

“We got younger. We got more athletic and we’ve got a lot of great guys that want to be a part of this team. It’s a great place that we are right now as far as USA and we look forward to being the best.”

On the quick turnaround between the Finals and now Olympic training:

“I’ve got a love for the game and a great respect for representing my country. That’s what it’s all about. I’ve always planned on being on the team, so I’m happy to be here.”

Kevin Durant on what he learned from this year’s Finals:

“Small things win games down on the floor — getting loose balls, deflections, things like that win basketball games. You know guys can score, guys can rebound, guys can pass, but small stuff is the reason why guys win the game.”

Is there a piece missing that you guys can add or just more work?:

“We’ve just got to keep working. I leave that up to the GM and the owner of the team to see what we need. Other than that, I’m just going out there and doing my job as a player. I’m not a GM, not a coach, I’m a player. So I’ve got to learn as much as I can and be a leader.”

How important is a gold medal for you?:

“Very important. I want to win everything I’m a part of. And to represent your country, of course, is an unbelievable honor, so I’ve just got to do my best to represent.”

Blake Griffin on what he learned in his first trip to the playoffs:

“It’s just a lot more bump and grind. You’ve got to really bear down and play physical down low, box out, do all the little things and take each possession at a time and really make sure you take care of the ball.”

How important is it for you to play for Team USA?:

“Very. Being able to play for your country, there’s no greater honor. To be a part of that is fun and I appreciate the opportunity and am blessed to be able to be here.”

Anything in particular you’re looking forward to about London?:

“Just really the whole experience. I’ve never been to any Olympic games or events. Really taking all that in. I’ve never even been to London, so getting to do that will be really exciting.”

Carmelo Anthony on he and the Knicks coming around during this past season:

“For me, I was down with injuries the whole year and it was a short season. But at the end of the day, once I got healthy, we started winning and the team started having some success. Then we had other injuries on the team that kind of brought us back down. But we’re very excited about our future with the Knicks right now.”

Give us a description last time around and this time around for Team USA:

“Last time around, we was trying to figure everything out. We was trying to redeem ourselves from ’04 and ’06. We did that; we came together. … Now, we understand that journey. We want to experience that journey again and for the young guys to have that experience, too, it’ll be just that much better.”

James Harden on what he gathered from the playoffs:

“The regular season and the playoffs is a different atmosphere and then the Finals is another level. It’s tough. Every possession counts. You don’t realize it until after the fact. … It was definitely a learning experience and something we can build on.”

Listen to LeBron, KD, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony and James Harden on ESPN 1100 in Las Vegas

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