Jason and the Redeem Team had something to prove entering the 2008 Olympics, and in a show of overwhelming force and skill, they did exactly that Sunday, defeating China in the basketball opener, 101-70.
J-Kidd started at point for Team USA, playing 13 minutes (two rebounds, two steals, one block) in the first of five preliminary games. Ever the facilitator, he did not attempt a shot, opting to let teammates LeBron James and Kobe Bryant handle the bulk of the scoring.
Jason was complimentary of his teammates following the game, as quoted by USA Today’s Erik Brady:
"Hopefully the people got their money’s worth because I thought LeBron and Kobe and those guys put on a great show," Jason Kidd said. "The emotions were so high and we tried to suppress them but we missed some wide-open shots. That’s going to happen in basketball so hopefully we can come back in the next game and knock those down."
|Jason, LeBron James and Chris Bosh enjoy their opening game victory over China (Getty Images).|
BACK IN ACTION
The victory over China was Jason’s first Olympic game since 2000, when he led the United States to a gold medal. In his last trip to the Games, Jason averaged six points, 5.3 rebounds and led the team with 4.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He missed the 2004 games with an injury.
During some off time on Monday, Jason was able to watch his fellow countrymen compete in the swimming 4×100 relay preliminaries, a prelude to one of the greatest comebacks in U.S. swimming history. J-Kidd spent some time that day with Jason Lezak, the eventual hero in America’s gold medal finish.
Lezak described the experience to Lisa Dillman of the LA Times:
[Lezak] sounded like a giddy kid, having watched the preliminary sessions at night at the Water Cube with U.S. basketball players Jason Kidd and LeBron James. "I talked to Jason Kidd the whole time," Lezak said. "It was an unreal experience."
Team USA takes on Angola Tuesday night in Beijing. It’s the fourth Olympic meeting between America and Angola, and the U.S. is 4-0 all-time, winning the last matchup, 89-53.
Still, Jason knows this is not the time to get complacent. As he told Kelly Whiteside of USA Today:
"We can’t have a letdown," he said of playing Angola on Tuesday. "We have to act as if it’s Spain or Greece…Angola has come a long way; they’ve improved."
The game can be seen live on USA Network at 5 AM PST.
Energertic Team USA lights up China in 101-70 win (USA Today, August 11, 2008)
Kidd: Team USA can’t ease up after win over China (USA Today, August 11, 2008)
Anchor Jason Lezak’s stunning 400-meter relay performance proves he’s a team player
(Los Angeles Times, August 11, 2008)