The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is a magnificent place of worship that has seen the likes of Pope Francis, President Joe Biden, King Charles III, and Rihanna shed their shoes to step on its gleaming white marble floor in recent years. A good portion of the Team USA Basketball travel party, including some players and family members, along with coaches and staff, visited the mosque a few hours before flying to the Philippines on Monday for their stay at the World Cup.
Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson participated in the photo opportunity with the tour guides. The things that Erik Spoelstra observed left him in a state of astonishment. Steve Kerr took a plethora of photographs with his wife on their vacation. And when everyone had finished their tours, there was no rush for anyone to go.
After all, the NBA is currently in its offseason break. And Team USA Basketball went to great measures to ensure that there would be a work-life balance for those who dedicated six weeks of their time in the hopes of bringing the Americans back on top of the international stage.
Camels have been ridden by some individuals who traveled more than halfway across the world to participate in the experience. Others went to the theme park Ferrari World, others played golf, others went shopping, and others went to the Louvre Abu Dhabi. There was plenty of time to relax by the pool or take long strolls along the beach as the warm bath water of the Persian Gulf, which reached a temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit, softly kissed the coast.
On the other hand, Manila is currently awaiting you. Now that it’s finally here, the World Cup can officially begin.
According to Kerr, “I know everyone is going to be focused on who wins, and obviously, we are as well — we want to win desperately.” “But this is also a fantastic experience for our players, our coaches, and our families to explore the world and experience competition at its highest form worldwide. What a fascinating adventure it was. I get the impression that our fellas are enjoying themselves.”
The ability to win is beneficial. This past summer, the United States men’s basketball team competed in five exhibition games and won every one. On Sunday’s final day of the stretch, they overcame a 16-point deficit in the second half to win 99-91 against Germany. Even before Sunday’s victory, the squad had a healthy amount of faith in its prospects, and that optimism was only bolstered by the outcome.
They have relished every moment of the journey up until now.
U.S. guard Austin Reaves, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, stated that he was with his family as he was walking through the hotel when he heard someone yell, “Austin, can I take a picture?” Reaves, who is from the United States, currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. “For anything like that to occur in this location makes it very meaningful to me. Nothing about any of that is ever taken for granted by me. I make it a point to sign anything and everything that needs to be signed whenever I have the opportunity to do so. For me personally, it holds a lot of significance. It’s the kind of thing that will make me laugh and happy when I think back on it in the future.”
Bobby Portis, a forward for the United States national basketball team, also visited Abu Dhabi for the first time the year before. At that time, he was playing for the Milwaukee Bucks in a preseason game against the Atlanta Hawks. During that trip, he purchased a kandura, a traditional white long-sleeved robe, and a matching headgear, and he wore both of these items to the arena on Sunday for the Americans’ final competition in the desert.
He took everyone with him, including his wife and children.
“I had no choice but to bring them along on this journey,” Portis stated. “They give me the strength to keep going.”
Most people on the trip had never done this, so it’s an exciting opportunity. Some players had yet to go to Abu Dhabi, others hadn’t been to Manila, and others hadn’t been to Spain, the first of the three overseas destinations the Americans made this summer.
Walker Kessler, the center for the Utah Jazz and the United States national basketball team, had never traveled outside the country. The same may be said about Tyrese Haliburton, a guard for the Indiana Pacers and the United States basketball team.
“I get paid a lot of money to play a child’s game, and I get a lot of opportunities that people would kill for just because I’m good at a sport,” Haliburton said. “I get paid a lot of money to play a child’s game.” “How you look at things can shape how you understand the world. I brought both of my parents, as well as my girlfriend, at the same time. None of these locations are familiar to my parents because they’ve never gone there. They probably always wanted to experience trips like this in their lives. What, they get to do that and watch their son play basketball simultaneously? To think that something as simple as a ball can take you to such amazing locations is truly a blessing.
After visiting the mosque, the travelers returned to the hotel on Monday afternoon to pack their belongings and prepare for the nine-hour overnight journey to Manila. The favorites to win the World Cup were expected to arrive in the Philippines, obsessed with basketball, on Tuesday morning. After that, a few days of practice are slated to follow before the Americans play their first game of the tournament against New Zealand on Saturday.
We’ve reached the end of our vacation. When that time comes, we’ll know that we’ve won the World Cup.
“These guys are all people who want the experience, and they all want the competition, but they also want to win a gold medal, and they all want to be a part of something special,” said Kerr. “That’s why they’re here,” the speaker said.