Why Derrick White was named to USA Basketball roster over NBA Finals MVP Jaylen Brown

LAS VEGAS – USA Basketball men’s managing director Grant Hill denied on Wednesday Jaylen Brown’s insinuation he was not Kawhi Leonard's replacement on the U.S. team for the 2024 Paris Olympics because of Brown’s previous relationship with Adidas and Brown’s criticism of Nike, USA Basketball’s longtime partner.

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

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

“You get 12 spots, and you have to build a team,” Hill said. “And one of the hardest things is leaving people off the roster that I'm a fan of that I look forward to watching throughout the season, throughout the playoffs, guys who've been Finals MVPs, guys who've been a part of the program, guys who've won gold medals, guys who I respected, admire, and enjoy watching.

“But the responsibility that I have is to put together a team and a team that compliments each other, a team that fits, a team that will give us the best opportunity for success. And so whatever theories that might be out there, they're just that. But that's my responsibility.”

Derrick White and Jaylen Brown during a 2023 game.
Derrick White and Jaylen Brown during a 2023 game.

Brown was critical of Nike when the athletic shoe and apparel company ended its relationship with Kyrie Irving over Irving’s promotion of an anti-Semitic film.

“It's tough to have conversations (and) tell people that they're not on the team,” Hill said. “And so I know I talked about that in the past. I'm trying to win and I'm trying to put together the right pieces that fit and give us a chance to win.”

White has long been considered a potential replacement if a player couldn’t participate, but Hill said Tuesday was the first time he talked to White. However, it’s likely Hill knew through discussions that White would say yes.

“I'll just say when we asked, he had to ask,” Hill said. "It wasn't a definite yes. As soon as 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 before he could get back to us.”

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