Heading into Friday’s FIBA AmeriCup tournament, there will be more than just bragging rights and a continental championship at stake for Team USA. Two of their players hope that the international competition leads to them getting a chance to play in the NBA again.
Patrick McCaw and Norris Cole hope that leading Team USA to their eighth gold medal at the AmeriCup tournament will help them return to the NBA. The two veterans have a combined five championships and plenty of wisdom and championship experience to pass down to any team looking to make that leap.
“I think it’s more about representing the USA for me right now,” McCaw said. “I want to make it back to the NBA. I know that’s a process. And I know one day, whenever, next week, next month, next year, when it’s supposed to happen, it’ll happen. But right now, I’m just focusing on this USA, wearing these three letters, giving my all to this team, and representing the United States of America.
For @pg30_Cole and Patrick McCaw, the priority for the next two weeks is getting @usabasketball an AmeriCup title.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) August 31, 2022
After that, they hope the NBA gives them a call.
The AP story on two champions who believe they have a lot more to offer:https://t.co/7eME1z7jgB
McCaw last played four games for the Toronto Raptors during the 2020-21 season. The UNLV products career has primarily slowed down due to a slew of injuries he says are no longer concerns. Cole last played for the OKC Thunder in April 2017. Since then, he’s spent the last five seasons playing in Israel, China, Montenegro, Italy, France, and Puerto Rico.
“I still have the ability,” Cole said. “God has still blessed me with the ability. I still have the fire, the hunger, and I still feel like I have something to prove, things that I would like to accomplish as a player. That feeling of winning a championship, the mission, the goal, the work to try to get to that point again, that’s what drives me as a competitor. And I want that feeling again.”
McCaw is 27-years-old, while Cole will be 34 by the time the season starts. Although they are at different points in their professional basketball careers, they both have the tangible of being around winning that makes any veteran attractive to a front office looking to surround their young players with vets that can help push them and a franchise to the next level.
McCaw is a threepeat champion, winning back-to-back titles with Golden State and his most recent championship in 2019 with the Raptors. Cole was a part of the legendary Miami Heatles teams led by LeBron James. Cole was a speedy three-and-D threat who won back-to-back rings with the Heat against the Thunder and Spurs.
“We’ve been around winning,” Cole said. “Patrick has that working for him. He knows what winning looks like, and anytime you’re around winning, it rubs off on you. He has that, he has a fun personality, and I think he definitely deserves another shot. I definitely believe that he deserves to be on an NBA roster.”
Three NBA champs headline Team USA in Cole, McCaw, and Jodie Meeks. They are joined by Zylan Cheatham, Gary Clark Jr., Will Davis II, Anthony Lamb, Frank Mason III, Jeremy Pargo, Elijah Pemberton, Craig Sword, and Stephen Zimmerman.
In training camp, Cole reportedly won every sprint he was in and established himself as the point guard of Team USA. McCaw’s talent shined through amongst a group of highly skilled players who played in the NBA or the G League. The most important thing for McCaw is that his confidence is coming back after battling knee and spine issues that left him off an NBA roster last season.
“I’ve been off the radar,” McCaw said. “I think this is a huge step because people are going to be able to watch these games and see where I’m at now. That’ll help, for sure. It was injuries that set me back. It wasn’t anything else in the way, or life, or me changing the type of person I am. It was injuries. And it was tough dealing with them. But this trip to Brazil, I definitely think it’ll open up some doors again.”
When it’s all said and done, Coel and McCaw will be focused on gold, but they have a glimmer in their eye that the tournament will be the ideal springboard to getting back to the NBA.