On Monday, USA Basketball announced 20 finalists for this summer’s Olympic Team. The stacked roster features eight 2008 Olympic gold medalists and 10 members of the 2010 USA World Championship gold medal team. Before the Olympics kick off in August in London, the roster must be trimmed to 12.
“Jerry has built an extremely deep and talented USA National Team roster of 35 players and I want to thank each player for their incredible commitment to being part of USA Basketball. Reducing to 20 players was unbelievably difficult,” stated Coach K, who has guided USA National Teams to a 48-1 record since 2006 and three championships.
“Aside from the obvious special basketball talents that all of these players possess, what struck me most about the finalists was their commitment to USA Basketball and the international basketball experience they have compiled. Among our 20 finalists, we have two players who possess 55 or more games of international experience, two with 40 or more international games under their belts and eight others who have played between 23 and 38 international games – that’s a lot of experience, which is going to be extremely valuable.”
The roster includes LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers); Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks); Chauncey Billups (Los Angeles Clippers); Chris Bosh (Miami Heat); Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers); Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks); Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder); Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies); Eric Gordon (New Orleans Hornets); Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers); Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic); Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers); LeBron James (Miami Heat); Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves); Lamar Odom (Dallas Mavericks); Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers); Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls); Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat); Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder); and Deron Williams (New Jersey Nets).
“These players have helped restore the winning tradition of USA Basketball while also gaining the respect of people around the world for the manner in which they have done it,” added Krzyzewski. “This will be the most talented of the teams that I’ve had the opportunity to coach.”
With a potential starting five of Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose and other options such as D. Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Kevin Love and many others, this team not only will be Coach K’s best-ever squad but also could be among the best in the history of basketball.
MORE FROM COACH K
“It’s been an exciting day for USA Basketball. To have these 20 men commit to the selfless service that a number of them, 18 of them, have served already, which is an example that our military has set for our program. We have used the military as a good example for selfless service and I’ve had many members of the military speak to our teams. I like the fact that we have a roster full of guys who have been champions, either in the Olympics or the World Championships, and people who are excited to play. It’s an honor for us to coach them and to work with Jerry. They are not playing for us; they are us, and that’s where the program has developed thanks to Jerry’s leadership.”
“The guys who have played now for us know what to expect so they understand that they are not going to be overworked. And what we did after the first year was adapt to each other; in other words, we would have one practice a day, but schedule their workouts — most of those guy, all of those guys, have some type of individual workouts in conditioning, stretching, you name it. What we did is we carved out time so that they could get all that done, and it didn’t mess up their normal routine. In other words, we tried to incorporate normal routines for these outstanding players, along with doing the team stuff. And they know that. They know that. They know what to expect, and it will be the same this summer.”
“One thing I will tell you is that each one of the last two teams to a man, every one of them has stated, I’ll do whatever you want me to do to make this a great team. And we expect that same cooperation going forward. One thing about all of these players, these 20 players, they are not only very talented, they are very, very smart. They are very intelligent and they want to be — they are very good team players and they understand that they represented the United States, and they will adapt accordingly.”
“Well, I think all of them have gotten better. You know, like in LeBron, Dwyane, those guys, they have gotten older, so they know more about the game. We didn’t have one facilitator; we had a few facilitators. And we didn’t have one closer; we had a few closers. So this will be the most talented of the teams that I’ve had the opportunity to coach. And one is that we’ll have a combination of the two championship teams, but also they are all older. They are better; a number of them are at the primetime in their careers. I like the balance we have, that we eventually could have with youth than right at your prime. And then guys who like in Kobe’s case, I guess he’s always at his prime; to have somebody with 16 years of experience like that to be the top dog, to be the oldest guy, that’s not a bad thing to have as your oldest guy (chuckling).”