'Hoops for Troops' sends message to Team USA
Posted July 14, 2012
That was Carmelo Anthony's description of the atmosphere Saturday in D.C, after Team USA finished practicing in front of around 3,000 members of America's armed forces and their families.
Specifically, 'Melo was referring to an exchange at the end of practice in which the troops gave their shoulder flag patches to players from both the U.S. Men's and Women's National Teams.
The "Hoops for Troops" event brought together two different team USA's: one which plays for the U.S. and another that protects it.
This event was months in the making. Coach K says he began discussing the idea with Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after a Duke game last season.
It should serve as quite the team-building exercise for the U.S. squad, which has now held exactly two practices with its current 12-man roster.
It's one thing to have fans and media members talking to them about the upcoming Olympics, but it's another thing altogether when people who have put themselves in harm's way are telling them Team USA's run for the gold really matters to them.
Chris Paul recalled a similar exchange when he played for the U.S. National Team in 2006. The World Basketball Challenge was in Seoul, South Korea, and Team USA visited U.S. troops stationed there. Paul says he still has his patch, and I believe him.
These guys are multi-millionaire athletes who receive gifts all the time, but they know a meaningful gesture when they see one. Here's hoping the message sticks with this team through London.