There are no surprises — did you think Kobe Bryant or LeBron James were going to be left off the team? — but now we know nine of the 12 players who will represent the United States in the London Olympic basketball tournament.
USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo laid it out for Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida.
In a phone interview with FOX Sports Florida, Colangelo said 2008 Olympic holdovers LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Deron Williams are assured of being on the team in London along with 2010 World Championship holdovers Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Tyson Chandler.
Again, no surprises there. And Colangelo said there would be no additions to the team at this point.
So there are six players left — Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay, James Harden, Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis — fighting for three spots. While Colangelo wouldn’t rule out Davis, the fact he sprained his ankle might cost him any real chance.
Because Team USA could use more height along the front line, one of those three places almost certainly will be Griffin’s. My guess is that Harden or Gordon will get a spot as a backup two, and Iguodala or Gay will get the other spot, but coach Mike Krzyzewski has options.
The entire team will be announced in a television special on NBA TV Saturday at 7 p.m. Eastern (after just a couple days of practice). From there Team USA will keep practicing, readying for a game against the Dominican Republic — which is in Venezuela right now trying to qualify for the Games through FIBA’s second chance qualifier matching teams that just missed out in their regions — on Thursday, July 12.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.