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Mason Plumlee wants you to know Duke, Nike had nothing to do with him making Team USA

Sep 1, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

Finland v USA Getty Images

Brooklyn’s Mason Plumlee did not expect to be in Spain right now with Team USA. He was invited to the Las Vegas training camp as part of the USA Select team — the group of young players that the big guns go against. Basically young sparring partners.

But he impressed and more importantly he fit as a role player — other players described his style as “easy to play with.” DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond are more athletic and talented (and they are playing more) but Plumlee just kept making the right plays and providing needed size. Mike Krzyzewski had Plumlee for four years at Duke and told PBT he was surprised by his level of play.

In the end Plumlee made the 12-man roster while guys like Kyle Korver and Damian Lillard did not. Team USA went with four centers on the roster.

That led to conspiracy theories in some corners of the Internet. One, that he went to Duke and that’s why he (and Kyrie Irving) made the roster over Lillard. Second, Nike has a lot of influence over Team USA and Plumlee is a Nike guy while Lillard is an Adidas star.

A journalist in Spain asked Plumlee about those questions and he politely shot them down reports Ball in Europe (via Eye on Basketball):

“I’m very proud that I went to Duke and I’m very proud that I wear Nike, and that has nothing to do with it,” Plumlee said, via Ball in Europe. “If you were at our practices and our training camp, anybody that was there, they would see why I made the team.”

My problem with conspiracy theories are that in some corners of the Internet people find a conspiracy in the Pope always being Catholic. The Web can be a place where logic and reason don’t always find a foothold. But the whispers about Plumlee and played into long-running conspiracies that existed already — and I agree Nike has had real influence with Team USA over the years.

The problem here is that Plumlee fits. He’s a legitimate choice. He’s the guy at the end of the bench — he’s played just 16 minutes through two games — but he has a place. When it came time to assemble the roster Coach K had his rotation bigs set (Cousins is getting good run off the bench) but he was looking for specialists to round out the roster. Looking ahead to teams like Lithuania and Spain with NBA-caliber front lines that stand in the USA’s path, Coach K opted for size. There’s a real logic to that. It fits.

But logic and conspiracy theories rarely go hand-in-hand. So put on your tinfoil hat and think what you want of Plumlee. He doesn’t care, he’s in Spain and wearing the uniform.

  1. eugenesaxe1 - Sep 1, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    “Mason Plumlee wants you to know Duke, Nike had nothing to do with him making Team USA”

    Three words:

    • sportsfan18 - Sep 1, 2014 at 6:14 PM

      don’t worry… one day you’ll learn to count

    • 00maltliquor - Sep 1, 2014 at 8:23 PM

      Yeah. I believe him as much as I believed Chris Smith saying JR had nothing to do with him being on the Knicks.

  2. trevor123698 - Sep 1, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    WTF? these two are beasts. The plumlees are the only reason duke won that last national title.

  3. smoothaswilkes - Sep 1, 2014 at 5:24 PM

    As a rookie last season, Plumlee averaged 18 minutes, 7 points, and 4 rebounds per game. Tell me again why I should believe that playing at Duke and being sponsored by Nike had nothing to do with him being on the select team in the first place? There are plenty more established players that could have been invited as well, and maybe all of those guys turned down the opportunity, but to think those two reasons weren’t reasons is naive at best.

    That said, once he got his chance, he made the national team. Well done, young Mason. Well done, indeed.

    • 88heatnation - Sep 1, 2014 at 6:27 PM

      I expect with all this hype he must be that good averaging 20 and 10 next season

  4. Mr. Wright 212 - Sep 1, 2014 at 5:38 PM

    the problem with you thinking this is a conspiracy theory and not facts that can’t be proven in writing is that everyone can see it for what it is, didn’t care after the first 24-48 hours, and had moved on… while you still have people getting defensive about it. That’s because they know the allegations are true. No one will care any further if they win gold. Just don’t urinate on our legs and say it’s raining.

  5. sportsfan18 - Sep 1, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    “The Web can be a place where logic and reason don’t always find a foothold.”

    Sadly, that is true for the brains of many folks too…

  6. rrhoe - Sep 1, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    Hmmmmm,John Wall was also endorsed by Adidas…….

    Just kidding,but please don’t tell me there’s no politics involved with USA Basketball.

  7. wrlegrand - Sep 1, 2014 at 7:45 PM

    Umm…yeah right…

  8. elcaminobilly - Sep 1, 2014 at 8:16 PM

    The commenters on here obviously did not watch the last month of the Nets’ games. If they had, they would know his level of play is on the level. He will be an All-Star in the next 5 years.

  9. campcouch - Sep 1, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    “Easy to play with”,ie doesn’t take shots from me.

  10. 6thsense10 - Sep 2, 2014 at 4:31 AM

    Somehow I think if Plumlee had played his college ball at Arizona and only averaged 7 pts a game in the pros I don’t think he even gets an invite to team USA tryouts.

    To say having your former college coach making decisions on who makes the team and who doesn’t has no bearing on a person making team USA is pure bull dung. I’m a Redskins fan and went through the Spurrier era where he put former Gators players on the team not for their skill level but rather because of his prior relationship with them. Any other coach looking at the situation objectively would never have considered Danny Weuffel to be an NFL caliber starting QB…but Spurrier did.

    Coaches are human and like most humans if they’ve had a prior working relationship with you and like you of course that factors into the hiring process. And you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to see that.

  11. John X - Sep 3, 2014 at 7:07 PM

    He’ll be an All-Star in two years. Kid can play. And he is learning from KG. Nets stole this one.

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