This is what Damian Lillard said after the USA lost to France in their first πŸ€ game of the Tokyo Olympics:

“I think that’s why a lot of people will make it seem like the end of the world, but our job as professionals and this team and representing our country at the Olympics, we’ve got to do what’s necessary and we still can accomplish what we came here to accomplish.”

This quote sums up their problem. You shouldn’t be aiming to be be professional at the Olympics. You need to be passionate. You need to have an emotional connection about representing your country. That’s the difference between USA and the other elite basketball teams at the Olympics, and what gives those other teams their edge. Other teams want to do the best in the name of their country.

These players aren’t getting paid to be at the Olympics. They’re there because they want to passionately represent their country. It’s not a job. Being professional isn’t the right approach.