For all of its talent, for all of the huge names on its superstar-laden roster, Team USA has struggled.
The Americans are 1-2 through their first three exhibitions ahead of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. They lost 90-87 to Nigeria on July 10 before falling again on July 12, a 91-83 defeat against Australia. Team USA finally notched its first exhibition win on Tuesday with a dominant 108-80 victory over Argentina in Las Vegas.
Nets star Kevin Durant was at the heart of the win, finishing with 17 points and six rebounds while going 3-for-5 on shots from 3-point range. It’s no stretch to say the 11-time All-Star is the best player in the competition.
Still, while Durant is nearly impossible to stop entirely, there have already been some early glimpses of international teams finding ways to do the seemingly impossible: block a shot by Durant. In a couple of those instances, social media reacted in fiery fashion.
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Durant Gets Blocked, Igniting Twitter
With time winding down in the second quarter of Team USA’s opening exhibition against Nigeria, Durant made a move toward the basket after taking a feed inside from Jayson Tatum. Durant went up high for a slam, but was met at the rim by Precious Achiuwa, who emphatically swatted Durant’s attempt at the apex of his leap.
Twitter, to no surprise, exploded.
Achiuwa, who plays for the Miami Heat, even took to Instagram to shade Durant himself.
Then, in Team USA’ second exhibition game against Australia, this happened courtesy of Matisse Thybulle, who plays for the Philadelphia 76ers.
In similar fashion, Twitter reacted with zero subtlety.
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Blocking Durant Is No Easy Feat
Durant’s 7-foot-5 wingspan, high release point and general ultra-effectiveness as a shooter has make him a nightmare for defenders. Doing enough to slow him down a bit is a tall order, but actually blocking one of his jumpers? Unheard of — for the most part.
It happened once in the regular season thanks to Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, a 6-foot-11 forward and the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Afterward, users on Twitter lost their collective minds trying to process what had just happened.
“Giannis blocked a KD jumper!!!” NBATV host Chris Miles tweeted. “I don’t ever remember seeing someone SWAT a KD fadeaway.”
“Can anyone else in the world other than Giannis block KD’s jumper?” @LegionHoops tweeted. “My goodness.”
And that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Cedric Golden, a sports columnist for the Austin American-Statesman, even tweeted: Giannis may be the only man on Earth who can block Kevin Durant’s jump shot.
After Team USA’s first few exhibition games, it’s clear that Antetokounmpo isn’t the only one capable of blocking the 2014 NBA MVP.