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Why Derrick White was chosen for USA Basketball over NBA Finals MVP Jaylen Brown

LAS VEGAS – USA Basketball men’s general manager Grant Hill on Wednesday denied Jaylen Brown’s claims that he will not replace Kawhi Leonard on Team USA at the 2024 Paris Olympics because of Brown’s previous relationship with Adidas and his criticism of USA Basketball’s longtime partner Nike.

“@nike what are we doing?”, Boston Celtics star and 2024 NBA Finals MVP Brown, shared on social media.

USA Basketball replaced Leonard with Brown’s Celtics teammate Derrick White on Wednesday.

“You get 12 spots and you have to build a team,” Hill said. “And one of the hardest things is taking out guys that I admire, that I look forward to watching throughout the season, throughout the playoffs, that have been Finals MVPs, that have been part of the program, that have won gold medals, that I respect, that I admire and enjoy watching.

“But my responsibility is to build a team that complements each other and a team, a cohesive team, a team that will give us the best opportunity for success. So whatever theories are out there, they are just that. But that is my responsibility.”

Derrick White and Jaylen Brown in the 2023 game.Derrick White and Jaylen Brown in the 2023 game.

Derrick White and Jaylen Brown in the 2023 game.

Brown criticized Nike after the athletic shoe and apparel company ended its relationship with Kyrie Irving over his promotion of an anti-Semitic film.

“It’s hard to talk to people and tell them they’re not on the team,” Hill said. “And so I know I’ve talked about it in the past. I’m trying to win and I’m trying to put the right pieces together to give us a chance to win.”

White has long been considered a potential replacement if a player is unable to participate, but Hill said Tuesday that he had spoken to White for the first time. But it is likely Hill knew from the conversations that White would say yes.

“I’ll just say that when we asked him, he had to ask,” Hill said. “It wasn’t a definite yes. When he was asked, yes, I think he wanted to do it. I don’t want to speak for him, but I think he had to make plans and coordinate things so that he could get back to us.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kawhi Leonard replacement: Why Derrick White was preferred over Jaylen Brown