Team USA’s run through the FIBA Basketball World Cup did not end as everyone had hoped, but it did provide a certain Eagle Scout the opportunity to enhance his reputation as one of basketball’s most valuable all-around players.
“Josh is just a winner,” Team USA head coach Steve Kerr said in one postgame news conference. “People ask ‘what position does he play?’ He plays winner. I don’t know what position he plays, but he gets loose balls and guards anybody. At one point (USA assistant coach Erik Spoelstra) turned to me and said ‘some people get 50-50 balls, but he gets the 30-70 balls.”
Jalen Brunson, a teammate of Hart in college, for the Knicks, and for Team USA, has consistently praised his friend, and now it seems the rest of the world has listened.
“He’s a hardworking guy that has the ability to do things on the court that every other NBA player does, but he takes pride in the little things on a nightly basis,” Brunson says. “He brings that toughness and effort and he’s just a different man. He goes out there and is relentless.
“He’s been doing that since the day I met him.”
Finishing what he started in Scouting
We’ve written about Hart a lot on this blog, and for good reason: He continues to make us proud.
Philadelphia Scouter Ed Lynes was nice enough to provide us with some great info on Hart back in 2016.
Scouting predates Hart’s days playing basketball; he started in the program as a Cub Scout. His father and older brother were involved in Scouting, and they thought it would be a good opportunity to do something together as a family. Hart would be the first to admit that balancing the dual time commitments of a promising basketball career and the trail to Eagle was a challenge.
“One Monday night after practice, I took the bus and got home around 6:45, just totally exhausted. I had stopped thinking as much about Scouting because I was so focused on basketball,” he says. “My dad said, ‘Let’s get in the car and go somewhere.’ He just pulled right up to the troop meeting and said, ‘you’re gonna finish what you started.’ I promised him I was going to finish, and kept thinking that I made a promise.”
Like many Scouts who balance commitments between school, church, sports and their troop, Hart got his Eagle done just in time.
“I finished it a week before my 18th birthday,” he says. “I really had to make those strict deadlines to keep my promise, but it’s a big part of the reason I am the man I am today. Those situations and what I learned translated into basketball.”
Watch this feature from ESPN to learn more about Hart’s journey to the rank of Eagle Scout.
“A tenacity to him”
After coming off the bench for the first handful of Team USA games, Hart eventually earned himself a permanent spot in the starting rotation.
In a world where most teams have players 6-foot-10 or taller to focus on rebounding, Hart, at 6-foot-4, was Team USA’s leading rebounder.
“He has a strength and a tenacity to him that sometimes overcomes a height disadvantage,” says Kerr.
Unlike some recent USA national teams, this version of Team USA did not have its pick of superstars to choose from. The roster had some holes, due to many American-born NBA stars choosing to rest their bodies in preparation for the grind of the upcoming NBA season.
Hart, however, did not hesitate when given the opportunity to participate.
According to an article posted on the official Olympics website, Hart’s wife had some reservations, considering their family was going through a major, life-changing event at the time he received his official invitation to play for Team USA:
New York Knicks small forward Josh Hart is out shopping with his wife, Shannon Philipps. All of a sudden, his phone rings — it’s his agents. They’re calling to let him know that he’s been invited to join Team USA for the upcoming 2023 basketball World Cup. There’s just one major issue: Hart and Philipps are brand new parents to twin boys.
“I looked at her, and said, ‘There’s no way I can turn it down.’”
Hart now has less than a month to rest up, as much as that’s possible with young twins in the house. Knicks training camp starts in just three weeks.