JaVale McGee recently took some serious heat over his selection as a replacement player to the Team USA men’s national roster.
The 33-year-old center has won a trio of NBA championships, has been known to be one of the better pure rebounders in the game, and is a blocking machine. However, McGee’s lasting reputation that he will leave on the league is his knack for boneheaded plays and goofy antics.
The latest Warriors news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Warriors newsletter here!
McGee – who has played with seven teams in his 13-year NBA career – was announced as the injury replacement for Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, who didn’t travel to Tokyo with the team due to a right calf ailment. The former Washington Wizards draft pick played the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons in the Bay Area, winning a pair of NBA titles, and averaged 5.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, 0.9 blocks, and 9.5 minutes per game across 142 contests (27 starts).
McGee Back With Current, Former Dubs: ‘Amazing Being Back With Champions’
McGee is far from the only current or former player or coach on Team USA with Warriors ties. Dubs head coach Steve Kerr is an assistant under San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, former Golden State superstar Kevin Durant is arguably the best player on the team, and current Warriors starter Draymond Green is again representing his home country.
“It’s amazing being back with champions,” McGee said during his Tuesday presser, of the reunion with Kerr, KD, and Green. “It’s a different mentality. It raises your level, your level of play going out there and being around champions and great players. I’m enjoying it, I’m enjoying every minute.”
McGee, who just split his 46-game 2020-2021 campaign between the Cavs and Denver Nuggets – his second go-around with Denver – also addressed his pending free agency.
“Talks will take place throughout the summer for sure, now and when free-agency starts so, everything is happening now, I guess,” he said.
McGee: ‘My Last Five Years Have Been Amazing’
Following his three-plus seasons with the Wizards to start his NBA journey, McGee was part of a massive three-team trade in March 2012 that shipped him to the Nuggets, where he would play for the next three years. The 7-foot center was again traded, this time to the Philadelphia 76ers in February 2015, but was waived a couple of weeks later.
McGee played 34 games with the Dallas Mavericks during the 2015-2016 season before earning back-to-back crowns with the Dubs in 2017 and 2018.
“I feel like the first year I went to Golden State, that was my most unsure year. My first year in Golden State was a non-guarantee. So, I really had to fight to be on the team,” he said. “[We] won that year, came back the next year, [and] won that year. [I] could have come back the next year but I didn’t want to come back for the minimum, I wanted to believe in myself.”
The Flint, Michigan native signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers in July 2018, and another contract with the squad prior to their title-winning 2019-2020 campaign.
“I went to the Lakers for a starting job – for the minimum, but for a starting job. I had the best, stat-wise, year of my career,” McGee said. “The next year after that, after I signed a two-year contract with the Lakers, the next year after that, we won the NBA championship. … But now I am in the Olympics. So my last five years have been amazing. I can’t thank anyone but myself and my team and everybody who was believing in me. Also everyone who was not believing in me, because [that] just made me go harder.”
The Team USA men’s squad’s first preliminary round contest at the Tokyo Olympics is scheduled for 8 a.m. EDT on Sunday against France.