Olympics: Durant powers US over China in bid for repeat gold
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Kevin Durant recalls the heartache of watching the 2008 US Olympic team win Beijing gold without him, so he has vowed to make the most of his chance for a golden repeat at Rio.
Durant scored 25 points and made a game-high six assists Saturday as the United States’ collection of NBA stars routed China 119-62 in a preliminary round Group A opener.
“KD is KD, man. He’s one of the best players in the world,” said US coach Mike Krzyzewski. “And he’s playing defense. It’s pretty nice to have that.”
Durant’s dedication comes after he missed out on the 2008 squad dubbed the “Redeem Team” after the 2004 team settled for bronze in Athens, losing three times.
“It was disappointing when I didn’t make that team,” Durant said. “I knew I had to wait my turn. I wanted to be part of that ‘Redeem Team.’ I was pretty unhappy having to watch on television.
“Now I’m living out my dream. Sometimes you have to wait to get what you want.”
Durant played on the 2012 US Olympic gold medal squad but this time has a clear starring role on a team with 10 Olympic debutantes, six of them in their first international tournament.
“It’s just having USA across my chest,” Durant said. “Not too many people get this opportunity so I just want to try to take advantage of it and get a gold medal.”
As the US team goes for a third consecutive gold and a seventh in eight tries with NBA talent, Durant refuses to compare legacies such as the original 1992 “Dream Team” or the prior generations of Olympic champions.
“Each legacy is different,” Durant said. “It’s difficult to compare two teams and the legacies. It’s a different story and you can appreciate each one.
“You never know what 2020 might hold, or this year. At the end of the day, what’s sure is the medal and that’s what we’re here to get.”
DeMarcus Cousins scored 17 points for the US team while Paul George had 15 as the US team improved to 6-0 in the Olympics against China.
“We never get bored with the process,” Durant said. “We came here with a goal and we never want to disrespect any of our opponents.”
Durant, a star at Oklahoma City, signed an NBA free agent deal to next season join Golden State, which won a record 73 games last season and came within a game of repeating as NBA champions.
A US Olympic free throw record fell as the Americans made 33-of-45 from the line, eclipsing the old mark of 32 made from the record 46 attempts in a 1960 victory over Italy./rga
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