NBA

Trae Young tweets gif about Team USA snub

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 26: Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts after hitting a three-point basket against the Washington Wizards in the second half at State Farm Arena on January 26, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Coming off a breakout playoff run, Trae Young was hoping to receive an invite to join Team USA. While many of his fellow NBA stars are preparing to compete in Tokyo, decision-makers for Team USA did not select Young to join them. However, two spots have recently opened up as Bradley Beal tested positive for Covid and Kevin Love re-aggravated an injury. USA basketball has not yet selected their replacements. Young took to Twitter to display his frustration about not being a part of the roster.

The tweet

Young posted a gif of Isiah Thomas from the recently-aired Michael Jordan documentary, “The Last Dance.” In the clip, Thomas discusses his own Team USA snub. He believed that Michael Jordan played a role in his not being selected. Otherwise, he can think of no reason why USA basketball did not offer him a roster spot. In the video, he says, “I don’t know what went into that process. I met the criteria to be selected, but I wasn’t.” Young attached a disappointed face and American flag emoji to the clip, indicating that he feels Thomas’ pain. While he is younger than many of Team USA’s star players, he certainly has enough of a pedigree to join the team following this season’s NBA playoffs.

Thomas himself showed a sense of humor about the clip. He responded to Young’s tweet with four “face with tears of joy” emojis. Thomas and Michael Jordan enjoyed a fierce rivalry, and it is clear from “The Last Dance” that some hard feelings remain. Despite being regarded as a top-five point guard of all time, Isiah Thomas never played for Team USA. Perhaps Jordan is to blame for that.

Comparing Young and Thomas

Young and Thomas do not have much in common. The “Bad Boy” Pistons of the ’90s were the toughest team in basketball. Isiah Thomas was their leader. He was physical on the court and brash off to it. He and Dennis Rodman got in hot water for comments they made about Larry Bird. The two of them said that,

“If he were black, heοΏ½d be just another good guy.”

The national media exploded, and Thomas had to apologize. By comparison, Young is a relatively scrawny, weak defender. He is soft-spoken and shows great respect for his NBA contemporaries. No player was vying to keep Young off the team because of a personal rivalry. Regardless, it appears that their Team USA snubs have brought the two undersized point guards together.

Team USA’s early struggles

Team USA lost their first two exhibition games before righting the ship. The Americans hadn’t lost back-to-back games since professionals began competing in 1992. There was, and still is some panic, that this roster is not invincible. Since the ’92 Dream Team, Team USA has finished worse than gold only once. Generally, their talent pool is so much greater than every other team’s that there is no competition. However, as basketball becomes more popular internationally, other countries are beginning to pose threats. Spain, Australia, Nigeria, and Argentina all have competitive rosters featuring current and former NBA players. Every other country also has spent more time playing and practicing together, giving them another competitive advantage.

Team USA has suffered from a lack of ball movement; maybe a facilitator and playmaker like Young is exactly what they need. It is not too late for USA basketball to earn Young’s forgiveness. However, they filled one spot with center JaVale McGee. With only one open roster spot remaining, Young could certainly be a valuable addition. However, USA basketball decision-makers have not voiced quick eagerness about Young. They have, in comparison, begun discussing Spurs forward Keldon Johnson as a potential option and already added McGee. While Johnson has impressed the Select Team in training camp, he is nowhere near the player Young is. McGee also has been a reserve for his entire career. However, the of them fill a different role than Young would. Maybe Team USA thinks it has enough stars and would prefer more frontcourt depth. If that’s the case, Young could be facing an uphill climb towards achieving his goal of playing in the Olympics this year.

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