Krzyzewski & Kobe Bryant

However you build it, U.S. Olympic team will be very good

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We don’t know exactly what the U.S. Olympic team will look like in London. We know the pool of players — the 20 finalists — the roster will come from. And we know a couple other things:

Mike Krzyzewski and staff have some hard choices ahead of them.

This team will be very, very good.

The pool of finalists is loaded with guys who could help the United States win gold in London. Every last one of them. There is a reason the USA will be the prohibitive pre-games favorite to win it all. Here is what Coach K told reporters on Monday, via Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated.

“This will be the most talented of the three teams that I’ve had the opportunity to coach,” Krzyzewski said in a conference call with reporters on Monday. “They’re all older. They’re better. A number of them are at the prime times of their careers. I like the balance … we eventually could have with youth, guys in their prime.”

It will be hard to get it down to 12. Here is my guess right now (obviously injuries and play the rest of the season will alter what all of us, including Coach K, are thinking):

Guards: Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant (Cut: Erick Gordon, Russell Westbrook, Chauncey Billups). I would love to have Gordon’s shooting but I can’t put him over Kobe or Wade at the two. Same at the point where Westbrook is good but not better than the other three.

Forwards: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love. (Cut Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay, Lamar Odom, LaMarcus Aldridge.) Carmelo’s game has always been a great fit with the international style of play, LeBron and Durant are the two best scorers on the planet. I keep Bosh and Love over guys like Griffin and Aldridge because they have more range and consistency on their outside shot, and bigs who can step out like that matter a lot in international ball.

Centers: Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler. As I and others have said, I want Chandler mostly go have some real size inside if and when the USA meets Spain for the gold medal, as most expect. Spain has size (Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka) that the USA has to match. If you want to just go with Howard you can bring back a forward like Griffin or Aldridge, or add a guard to the roster.

Either way they have the talent to win the gold. This team should rival any the USA has put together in terms of pure talent.

Enjoy 50-best circus shots of last NBA season

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As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.

For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.

Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.

To avoid trash talk, Steven Adams told Kevin Garnett he didn’t speak English

Kevin Garnett
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Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.

Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.

Brilliant.

Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.

Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy “encouraged” by players speaking out, protesting social issues

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 17: Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons yells to his players during the first half of the NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on April 17, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption ***Stan Van Gundy
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Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.

Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.

A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…

“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”

Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.

The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.

Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis

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It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.

But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.

Best. Dunk. Ever.

By anyone.

Weis was never the same.

In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.

Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.