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Kobe Bryant to Play for US at World Basketball Championships


National Basketball Association scoring leader Kobe Bryant is among the 21 NBA stars who have been named to play for the United States at the upcoming World Basketball Championships in Japan.

Bryant heads the initial 23-man list announced Sunday. The team will be narrowed to 15 players before finally being trimmed to 12 for the tournament in August. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University's legendary college basketball coach, will guide the team.

Also included on the provisional squad are Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards, Chauncey Billups of the Detroit Pistons, Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks, Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics, Michael Redd of the Milwaukee Bucks, Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, Luke Ridnour of the Seattle SuperSonics, and rookie Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets.

Forwards named were Phoenix Suns teammates Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets, Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors, Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Washington's Antawn Jamison, Bruce Bowen of the San Antonio Spurs and Lamar Odom of the Lakers.

The only true center named was Brad Miller of the Sacramento Kings, although Miami Heat veteran Shaquille O'Neal has a standing invitation to join the team.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.