A star-laden roster of NBA players will make up the United States Men's
Basketball team for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Chris Cox has
details on the selections announced Monday, as the Americans try to
regain international dominance.
This season's NBA Most
Valuable Player, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, and LeBron
James of the Cleveland Cavaliers are the two headlining names on the
USA men's roster.
In addition to James, four other players
named to the team have previous Olympic experience, including Jason
Kidd (Dallas Mavericks), Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets), Carlos
Boozer (Utah Jazz), and Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat).
the squad, which will be led by Duke University Hall of Fame coach Mike
Krzyzewski, are Tayshaun Prince (Detroit Pistons), Chris Bosh (Toronto
Raptors), Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic), Chris Paul (New Orleans
Hornets), Michael Redd (Milwaukee Bucks) and Deron Williams (Utah Jazz).
The reason for the selection of these All-Stars was made clear by the Director of USA Basketball Jerry Colangelo.
felt that there were a number of things that needed to change, the
culture certainly needed to change," he said. "We needed new
infrastructure. We needed commitments from coaches and players alike
for a period of time. All of that transpired, took place, and it
culminated Monday with the actual selection of the 12 players that will
be representing the United States in the Olympics in Beijing."
problem with having so many star players is keeping them all happy. So
how will Krzyzewski - the man known as "Coach K" - address the egos of
players who are used to being the go-to guy on their NBA teams?
"We don't want to reduce guys' egos and tell them 'you're the 11th man or 12th man,'" he said. "We want them to be a star."
To help Colangelo and Krzyzewski make their decisions, they paid close attention to the NBA playoffs.
the level of pressure, especially if they're in a seventh game, because
in international basketball it's one and done after pool play,"
Krzyzewski said. "I was impressed with our guys throughout. But like
Jerry I was just crossing my fingers that no one would get hurt."
United States won three straight gold basketball medals at the Olympics
starting in 1992 when NBA players were first allowed to take part in
the Games. In recent years, the United States has not dominated
international play and had to settle for a bronze medal at the 2004
Neither Colangelo nor Coach K were with the team then, but Coach K does offer one explanation.
"Those guys had commitment, good coaching," he said. "They didn't have the opportunity of providing any continuity."
U.S. men have their first mini-camp training sessions this Saturday and
Sunday in Las Vegas. The U.S. team will meet again on July 21 and play
four warm-up games before arriving in Beijing on August sixth.
Preliminary pool play will begin on August 10 when the United States
meets Olympic host China.