Durant finished with 23 points on 8-of-11 attempts from the floor — which pushed him past Carmelo Anthony as USA men’s basketball all-time leading scorer.
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Kevin Durant Makes U.S. Olympic History
Topping Anthony’s 336 points, Kevin now has 354 points and counting as Team USA prepares for its first win-or-go-home matchup against France, next week.
“Just thinking about all the players who played in this program, it’s pretty cool to be amongst names like that,” Durant said after Saturday’s win, per Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel. “Carmelo is a guy I played on two Olympic teams with. I’ve seen his approach to these games and I tried to steal some of his techniques.
“I don’t know, man, it’s still pretty weird for me to do [expletive] like this. I play a team sport and I try my hardest to make it about the group. But it is pretty special to do something like that.”
Throughout the game’s first three quarters, Durant was a constant thorn in the Czech Republic’s side as Team USA kept their opponent at bay after halftime. However, when Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum checked into the game just before the fourth quarter, his offensive performance took over down the stretch as Kevin gazed from the bench.
Kevin Durant Says Jayson Tatum Will Be ‘The Next One’
During Durant’s postgame interview, Kevin was asked about becoming Team USA’s all-time leading scorer and he had this to say about his young Celtic teammate.
“This guy next to me will be the next one,” Durant said, via Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy.
Meanwhile, Durant’s prediction is technically feasible, considering Tatum’s age and Jayson’s ascension as he’s already established himself as one of the NBA’s best young premier scorers. Tatum, 23, averaged a career-high 26.4 points throughout 2020-21.
He also set a new career-high (60 points) during the regular season before setting a new playoff career-high — which was a 50-point performance against All-Stars Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and the Nets.
During Saturday’s postgame media availability, Tatum shared a few words about Durant’s play and its continued influence over the years.
“It’s a huge accomplishment when you think about all of the great players, the great hall of fame players that put this uniform on,” Tatum said after Saturday’s win during media availability. “To be at the top; to have that scoring title, you know I’m young enough to remember the 2016 and 2012 team that he was on. Now, to be able to play in the Olympics on the same team as him and other guys like Draymond, who’s been through this before, it’s really cool, honestly.
“I can remember being in middle school and high school and you know, saying, ‘one day I’m going to be on the Olympic team.’ To share the court with these guys makes it all that much better.”