USA Basketball names 12-man team
By SPORTS NETWORK
U.S. basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski and U.S. basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo flank the 12 players selected for the 2012 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team in Las Vegas, Nevada July 7, 2012. Back row: Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love, Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Front row: Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, James Harden, Andre Iguodala and Kobe Bryant. (Steve Marcus/REUTERS)
LAS VEGAS - Despite a slew of injuries, head coach Mike Krzyzewski said picking the U.S. Olympic basketball roster was still a tough task.
The final 12-man roster, announced Saturday after two training sessions in Las Vegas, contained little in the way of surprises.
The stars left off the team -- Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose and No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis -- are injured, but Coach K said the tryouts benefited from a deep pool of remaining candidates.
"It's the best challenge that you could have because everyone has been so committed," Krzyzewski said. "The guys who were not selected are in our pool, and if someone did get hurt, they are already part of our team and could be seamlessly woven in at a later date. We really appreciate the commitment of all of these guys."
Heat forward and reigning MVP LeBron James, fresh off winning his first NBA title, and Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony made the Olympic team for a third straight time as the only holdovers from the 2004 bronze medal team in Athens.
Guards Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, Deron Williams of the Nets and Chris Paul of the Clippers are the other three players back from the 2008 "Redeem Team" that won gold in Beijing four years ago.
"We know what's at stake," said Bryant. "So come Olympic time we're going to be ready to go and we're going to bring the gold medal back to the U.S."
Also making the team were three members of the Western Conference-champion Thunder: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.
Knicks center Tyson Chandler, Clippers forward Blake Griffin, 76ers swingman Andre Iguodala and Timberwolves forward Kevin Love rounded out the roster that USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said fit with the gameplan to have athletic, versatile players and a deep bench.
"I think our final roster epitomizes all of that," he said.
Injuries to Wade, Bosh, Howard and Rose and the recent sprained ankle suffered by Davis made it easier for some to make the team. Reports indicate the final two slots went to Iguodala, known for his perimeter defense, and Harden, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.
The United States Olympic Committee granted USA Basketball an extension to name the team because there were so many injuries.
Durant, Westbrook, Chandler, Iguodala and Love were all part of the 2010 World Championship team, while Harden and Griffin are first-timers on the national squad.
The team will remain in Las Vegas for training through July 12, culminating with a game against the Dominican Republic. It will train in Washington, DC, from July 13-15 and play an exhibition against Brazil at the Verizon Center on July 16 before heading to England, where it is scheduled to play Great Britain in an exhibition.
After that, the U.S. will play games against FIBA's No. 2 and 3 ranked teams, Spain and Argentina, in Barcelona to mark the 20th anniversary of the Dream Team's debut.
The Americans landed in Group A for the Olympics along with Argentina, France, Tunisia and two other teams. Their first game is July 29 against France.