CHICAGO — In a press conference held this morning at the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (yes, such a place exists, and yes, the coolest part is the Mario Andretti racecar mounted to the wall of the main entrance), USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo announced the roster for the team that will represent the U.S. in the upcoming Olympic games in Beijing. Although the announcement was mostly a formality, as many of the names had been leaked and confirmed preceding the event, Colangelo, head coach Mike Krzyzewski, Carmelo Anthony and hometown favorite Dwyane Wade answered questions from the media.
Both Krzyzewski and Colangelo reiterated the change in culture of the Olympic team–“It’s not an all-star team,” Krzyzewski said, “It’s a team, and we have to figure out a rotation”–and a more new-found respect for the international game that perhaps had been lacking in recent efforts. From the third place finish in the 2004 games to a shocking semifinal ousting by Greece in the FIBA World Championships in 2006, USA Basketball was forced to re-evalute the way it operated and the result is a collection of 12 players who have demonstrated the desire and commitment to represent their country over the past three years.
The roster includes Anthony, former Dukie Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Tayshaun Prince, Michael Redd, Wade and Deron Williams. One of the more interesting moments was when Colangelo interrupted Krzyzewski to address a question about the future of USA Basketball and the level of interest of current big-name players. He was quick to call out both Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan as players who decided they were no longer interested in the experience of the national team, but he sounded a bit more bitter than frank. Coach K came back, though, by saying that while this team may not be big, it is quick on the perimeter, which is more conducive to succeeding in international play.
The team will practice in Las Vegas for two days in June and five days in July before traveling to China.
—by Meredith Shiner