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07/25/24 08:46:00

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07/25 08:45 CDT US Olympic basketball team is eager to find balance between being players and being fans US Olympic basketball team is eager to find balance between being players and being fans By TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer PARIS (AP) --- The U.S. men's basketball team is headed to the athletes village on Friday to mingle with fellow Olympians before the opening ceremony. Next week, the group wants to see Simone Biles compete. Stephen Curry hopes to watch beach volleyball and swimming. And most of the players have sponsor-related obligations. It's a busy couple of weeks. Also, there are games to play. Such is the challenge of the Olympics for some of the biggest stars in Paris --- they want to enjoy being part of the show, while remaining mindful that they can't let the spectacles distract from the business of winning a fifth consecutive gold medal. Olympic veterans like four-timer Kevin Durant know the drill. The first-time Olympians like Curry are figuring it out on the fly. "There's those times throughout the day when you get your work in, you get your treatment, make sure you're prepared," Curry said. "And then the rest is allowing yourself to be free to be a part of the Olympic experience as a whole. I think that'll be contagious, the joy of being in the moment. We say ?be where your feet are' when it comes to enjoying the games that we get to play, too, because it goes by quick. It's only six games, hopefully, to win a gold." Thursday's practice --- the first for the Americans in Paris, following a workout on Wednesday at the arena a couple of hours away in Villeneuve-D'Ascq, France, where group-play games start this weekend --- was the one where U.S. coach Steve Kerr hoped the team would start really locking in on the Olympic task. The round-the-world tour --- Las Vegas to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to London --- the Americans took to get ready for Paris, with five exhibition games along the way, is over. "It's time," Kerr said. "We're not traveling around anymore. We're here. We've got six games. We've got to get into the pool play, advance and it's like the NCAA Tournament. It's 40 minutes of forced attention and focus and we can't let teams outplay us effort- and energy-wise like we did the other night against Germany, like we did against South Sudan." It's been a good balance so far. The last exhibition game against Germany was Monday in London, where the spent an off day Tuesday for sightseeing. Wednesday was a travel-and-practice day, Thursday was a full practice day and Friday will be an off day for the trip to the village and then the opening ceremony, where LeBron James is one of the U.S. flag bearers alongside tennis star Coco Gauff. Saturday is back to work --- practice and a trip north back to Villeneuve-D'Ascq --- and then the tournament starts Sunday against Serbia. "I always say we can do all things," Durant said. "You get a lot of energy when you come out here. So, we get energy to play, obviously, but you want to go support other sports, other athletes that you may know. And it just works out. Like I said, the energy level is high. You kind of feed off of that, to be honest." Kerr said he isn't worried. Everyone on the U.S. team is a proven pro, used to juggling multiple responsibilities at once. He's sure that there will be a full understanding of when it's time to lock in and when it's time to let loose. And he's going to ask the veteran Olympians to explain to the newcomers how all the pieces ideally fit. "All these guys are corporations unto themselves," Kerr said. "They have stuff. They have business partners. So, they're going to be pulled in all directions. Everybody's got family here. This should be one of the great experiences of our lives. But the best way to make it an incredible experience is to win a gold medal, obviously." ___ AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games
 
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