Kyrie Irving Speaks Out on Team USA Exclusion: "We Used to Have Tryouts"

Irving reflects on Team USA's evolving selection process.

by Nouman Rasool
Kyrie Irving Speaks Out on Team USA Exclusion: "We Used to Have Tryouts"
© David Jensen/Getty Images

As USA Basketball rounds out its roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics, the notable absence of Dallas Mavericks star Kyrie Irving from the lineup has stirred up conversations about the evolving selection process of the national team.

Despite his status as one of the premier American players in the NBA, Irving's omission from the team has been confirmed with the announcement of Kawhi Leonard’s inclusion, completing the squad. Recently, Irving shared his thoughts on not making the U.S.

men's basketball team. He expressed goodwill towards his fellow players, wishing them success in their mission to reclaim Olympic glory. Yet, he also reflected on a bygone era of player selection that he experienced firsthand.

“I grew up in a time when we actually had to try out for USAB,” Irving reminisced. “We would meet as a group, as peers, and there was a mutual respect earned from one another through the tryouts, observing how well different players meshed together”.

Irving's Stellar Record

Irving is no stranger to representing his country, having donned the U.S. jersey with distinction. He was instrumental in the team's success at the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he earned MVP honors in 2014 and contributed significantly in 2016 with averages of 11.4 points and 4.9 assists per game.

The selection process for the national team has shifted significantly since Irving's last participation. Last year, USAB Executive Director Grant Hill announced a move away from traditional tryouts. Hill explained this change as a response to a generational shift in basketball, focusing instead on using the time to foster team chemistry and camaraderie.

Reflecting on the past, Irving said, “I kind of miss those days of just being able to get everyone together, break bread, and then compete against each other. It was about more than just playing; it was about building bonds”.

Yet, he holds no grudges, emphasizing, “I just wish my brothers well”. The decision to exclude Irving and another top point guard, Jalen Brunson of the New York Knicks, has been controversial. In their place, Jrue Holiday and Tyrese Haliburton were selected, a strategic choice aimed at balancing the team’s composition.

Holiday, known for his defensive prowess, and Haliburton, celebrated for his unselfish playmaking, are expected to complement a team rich in scoring talent. Both Irving and Brunson are dynamic, scoring-oriented guards, capable of playmaking—a trait Irving has proven in his ability to adapt alongside Luka Doncic at the Mavericks.

Despite this versatility, the 32-year-old Irving finds himself sidelined this Olympic cycle, highlighting the evolving dynamics and tough decisions inherent in assembling a team capable of competing at the highest levels on the international stage.

Kyrie Irving