USA Basketball's Road to London Makes Stop in Foggy Bottom
July 15, 2012
The familiar sound of basketballs bouncing on the hardwood floor could once again be heard within GW's Charles E. Smith Center early on Sunday afternoon, but the athletes running up and down the court weren't GW student-athletes.
The household names to GW basketball fans - names like Kromah, Mikic, Kopriva, Smith and Pellom - were replaced by Bryant, James, Durant, Anthony and Paul, as in Kobe, LeBron, Kevin, Carmelo and Chris. The USA Basketball Men's National Team was in town for practice ahead of its exhibition game versus Brazil at Verizon Center on Monday night.
Those NBA superstars, joined by USA teammates Tyson Chandler, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams, were put through a two-hour practice by Duke's Hall of Fame mentor Coach `K', Mike Krzyzewski.
Validating the confidence of GW parent, trustee and grandson of Charles E. Smith, David Bruce Smith (CCAS BA '79), USA Basketball chose to practice at the building that bears his grandfather's name during its summer tour ahead of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
"When our family became involved with the transformation of the Charles E. Smith Center, we were confident that the changes would enhance the ability of the George Washington University to host events of international significance," said Smith. Hosting the reigning Gold medal winners certainly qualifies.
With Team USA practicing in the Smith Center, the Brazilian Women's National Basketball Team took to the courts at GW's Lerner Health and Wellness Center as it prepared for an exhibition against Team USA's women's squad prior to men's exhibition contest on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Colonials Club on the west baseline of Tex Silverman Court hosted all-time NBA greats Lenny Wilkens, Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning for a "Chalk Talk" with select guests prior to Team USA's practice.
Following practice, Wilkens, Ewing, Gheorghe Muresan and Olympic Gold Medalist Teresa Edwards joined a number of GW men's and women's basketball players - Isaiah Armwood, Tara Booker, Bryan Bynes, Danni Jackson, John Kopriva, Joe McDonald, Nemanja Mikic, Sara Mostafa, Megan Nipe, David Pellom, Shi-Heria Shipp and Brooke Wilson - for a "Hoops for Troops" basketball clinic, instructing children in military families about the fundamentals and finer points of the game.
"The generosity of the Smith family and countless others transformed the Charles E. Smith Center into a state-of-the-art venue that really attracts events like this," said GW Director of Athletics and Recreation Patrick Nero. "Former President Bill Clinton was here with the Clinton Global Initiative in the spring and we hosted President Obama for a basketball game, while comedians like Jon Stewart and Bill Maher have recently entertained sold-out crowds here. Now, with USA Basketball training in our facility, this is truly a world-class venue."
Following a 113-59 win in exhibition action against the Dominican Republic on Thursday in Las Vegas, Team USA will host Brazil on Monday before traveling to Manchester, England to meet Great Britain and GW alumnus Pops Mensah-Bonsu ('06) on July 19th. USA concludes exhibition play in Barcelona versus Argentina and Spain, respectively, on July 22nd and 24th.
"The team's training and these games will be absolutely critical in our preparation and we know that each of the teams will pose significant and unique challenges," noted Coach Krzyzewski, knowing that proper training is critical to Team USA's success in the Olympics.
On Sunday, USA Basketball's road to London went through Foggy Bottom and the Charles E. Smith Center.