Damian Lillard Believes Overseas NBA Stars Play With ‘More Freedom’ At the Olympics

Published 07/26/2021, 10:30 AM EDT
DENVER, CO – FEBRUARY 4: Damian Lillard (0) of the Portland Trail Blazers stands on the court after being introduced against the Denver Nuggets before the first quarter on Tuesday, February 4, 2020. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)


France played spoilsport in USA’s opening Tokyo 2020 fixture, defeating them 83-76. The Americans were on the flip side of the records, losing their first match in the Olympic Games since 2004. Rudy Gobert and Nando de Colo put on a miraculous display in the second half, and laid out a statement of intent. Following the loss, Damian Lillard provided an insight as to what may have unfolded.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Damian Lillard feels foreign NBA stars play differently in the Olympics

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Basketball – Men – Group A – France v United States – Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan – July 25, 2021. Damian Lillard of the United States in action with Rudy Gobert of France REUTERS/Brian Snyder

In the first half, the men in blue were coasting along. Damian Lillard, Bam Adebayo and Draymond Green were making it look like there was an exhibition match happening. Going into Q3, Popovich’s side led the French 45-37. However, as the match went on, France upped the ante courtesy the trio of de Colo, Gobert and Fournier. Tightening the screws on the American attack, they pulled off a sensational victory to kick-start their campaign.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

WATCH THIS STORY: How Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Other NBA Stars Used Hecklers to Motivate Themselves

In the post-match presentation, Point-guard Damian Lillard explained the difference between the foreign players at the NBA and on the international stage. “You know who we see each night sometimes in the NBA, they are completely different when they play for their countries,” Portland‘s No.0 exclaimed. “They got more freedom, and the comfort level is obvious. So we put ourselves in a dogfight, and they [France] made plays to win it.”

What’s next for Team USA at Tokyo 2020?

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Kevin Durant and his side will aim to move on from the tough loss, and will be wary of their opposition henceforth. On their road to gold, they cannot afford any further slip-ups. First and foremost, Durant and the coaching staff will analyze how to make the Brooklyn Nets forward more effective himself. More 10 point performances will not make the cut, especially considering the young nature of the squad.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

With stars such as LeBron James and Stephen Curry not in the fray, Durant along with the other experienced players will need to lead the way. Next up for the United States is an up and coming Iranian side on Wednesday. USA will start as firm favorites, but make your mind up about the result at your own peril!

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

ADVERTISEMENT

Sankalp Harikrishnan

228 articles

Sankalp Harikrishnan is a tennis and NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He aspires to pursue Sports Journalism and has represented his institution in cricket, badminton, football, and table tennis. Apart from his professional desires, Sankalp does voluntary service with his friends to feed hungry animals on a regular basis.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT