Brooklyn Nets center Mason Plumlee is the latest scorn victim of the basketball snark universe, since some find it hard to believe that a late first-round pick in 2013 could rise from the USA Select Team all the way to making a real spot on the USA Men’s National Basketball Team roster. He’s an easy pick: he went to Duke and played basketball under coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is also the head coach of USABMNT, and his main competition is the talented but mercurial Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.
When a report surfaced that Plumlee might actually make the team over Cousins, it sent some into sports-fueled uproar, since Cousins is a more talented player. Coach K & Team USA ended up bringing every big man to Spain anyway.
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One reporter couldn’t take the suspense anymore, asking Plumlee what he thinks of the criticism that he only made the team because of his Duke connection, or apparently, his Nike connection, prefacing the question with “no offense”:
There are roughly 37,000 NBA players signed to Nike, so that just seems like an odd conspiracy theory. Plumlee handles the question well — “I’m very proud I went to Duke and I’m very proud that I wear Nike. That has nothing to do with it. If you were at our practices and our training camps, anybody that was there would see that was why I made the team” — in the way that makes you know he’s practiced it in the mirror in anticipation of the inevitable. But watch the disdain bubble to the surface in his expression. It’s almost like he knows how much dirt people are throwing on him, when all he did was have the audacity to go to college for four years and then play well enough in practices to impress Team USA’s coaches. Lots of people went to Duke, not as many shot 66 percent from the field at the NBA level last year.
Plumlee’s more of a practice body than anything else: he’s only scored six points in 16 minutes through the first 2 games, both the fewest on the team. Maybe he just needs to channel that rage into dunks on other nations.