NBA Finals enemies vie for money in Tokyo as US teammates


Milwaukee – Three NBA stars have been studying each other from afar for the past two weeks. Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton, Bucks goalie Jul Holiday, Phoenix Suns goalie and Devin Booker also spent their time avoiding each other closely.

“Now we’re not saying a word to each other,” Middleton said.

That’s because Bucks and Sands have played in the NBA Finals for the past two weeks. They played in the potentially decisive Milwaukee game on Tuesday, and Bucks could win the first NBA championship since 1971. Otherwise, Sands and Bucks will play Game 7 in Phoenix on Thursday.

But then, the relationship between Middleton, Holiday and Booker changes rapidly. They transform from final opponents to teammates in Team USA. When the final concludes on Tuesday or Thursday, Middleton, Holiday and Booker will join the US Olympic men’s basketball team at the Tokyo Olympics.

“I think we’re doing fine,” Middleton said. “I’m sure we won’t be Team USA’s best companions, but we will definitely be teammates. We will follow the same path, talk about X and O basketball, and work. I try to reach. “

All three players are good at getting the job done in the final.

Average of 25.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists, Middleton became the second reliable option after Bucks forward Giannis Antetokompo. He struggled to shoot in Game 1 (4 of 14), Game 2 (7 of 21), and Game 4 (4 of 20), but Holiday was Game 3 (8 of 20). ) Performance rebound. of-14) and Game 5 (12-of-20). Holiday also stole the ball from the booker on a practice that could win the game in Game 5. With the exception of that game and slow Game 3 (3 of 14), Booker has recorded 40 performance points twice in a row. .

“It’s a lot of fun. Basketball is the one thing I really wanted to play for a long time,” Booker said. “So I love it so much and I compete at the higher level than basketball. know. ”

How does this dynamic work if you wear the same Team USA uniform?

“Unless you’re crossing the border, whoever you’re going with is never personal,” Booker said. “I never go with them because they are not that type and they have a high level of respect for each other. This is why I think we are in the position where we are now. Representing is a whole different dynamic than playing against each other in the NBA Finals, but I can still respect someone who competes at the highest level. “

With these three athletes possessing these qualities, it’s no wonder that Middleton, Holiday and Booker were selected for the US Olympic team. But it may be surprising that they accepted the invitation.

After all, just 71 days after the Los Angeles Lakers won the 2020 NBA title in the Bubble Campus, the NBA entered a compressed 72-game season. The US Olympic team will begin their qualifiers against France on Sunday, followed by Iran (July 28) and the Czech Republic (July 31). This will allow Middleton, Holidays and Bookers to fly to Tokyo and prepare for Team USA’s opener, depending on the end of the NBA Finals, in three to five days.

“I felt like I didn’t intend to stop playing. Keep playing basketball. That’s what I like, ”Holiday said. “Well, we’re in the final. Why don’t you continue to play basketball?

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Therefore, Booker said he will fly to Tokyo for the “next smoke” as soon as the NBA Finals are over. Booker, 24, considered playing for the US Olympic team “very important” and “a goal of my life.” He also argued that the Olympics were “the most prestigious event basketball can find.”

Booker embodied the idea after speaking to Sands’ coach Monty Williams, who became the U.S. team’s assistant coach for the Rio Games in 2016.

“I told him about the privilege of being a part of this group and how cool it was for the last team to stand up and play your national anthem,” said Williams. ..

Middleton and Holiday didn’t offer the same courtesy to Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer.

“They have both become fraudulent,” Budenholzer said. “They completely chilled me from the decision. Probably smart on their side. And unfortunately, I am serious.

Nonetheless, Budenholzer smiled after sharing his honesty about getting out of the loop.

“They were able to find out for themselves,” Budenholzer said. “I was excited about them and their opportunity. Obviously I’m a little more interested in their focus here now, but they’re designed to handle it all.

After all, Middleton argued that attending the Tokyo Olympics was “not too difficult” in his desire to compete for the gold medal on behalf of his country. The same goes for the vacation where his wife Lauren won two gold medals on the US women’s football team at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. But what about the summary schedule?

“It doesn’t bother me at all. I love basketball. I love playing it, ”said Middleton. “During the off-season it’s hard to rest for a few weeks because I want to go back to the gym to do something or play games, and one of the perks is that I don’t have to go back to the normal. . “

However, he should adapt quickly. The United States was 2-2 at the show, including losses to Nigeria and Australia. He also lost three players, including Kevin Love (injured), Bradley Beal (health and safety protocol) and Zach LaVine (health and safety protocol).

First. Middleton, Holidays and Bookers say they are more concerned with a particular set of gear before they worry about integrating their teammates into a new squad.

“You just won the championship and go from there,” Holiday said. “It sounds like our goal. One of my childhood dreams was to win the NBA Championship. This is the main objective.

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