The FIBA Americas Championship games began today and the USA Men’s Basketball team tips off tonight against Venezuela. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN Classic at 10 p.m. and, according to ESPN’s listings, replayed on ESPN2 at 11.
At stake for the boys in Vegas this week is an Olympic birth in next summer’s games in Beijing, China.
Here’s the roster: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kobe Bryant , Tyson Chandler, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Jason Kidd, Mike Miller, Tayshaun Prince, Michael Redd, Amare Stoudemire and Deron Williams.
Can’t really complain about the roster. I would like to have seen Shaq instead of Chandler, Ray Allen instead of Mike Miller and Allen Iverson instead of Deron Williams. But that’s my dream as a fan. My wishes don’t make much sense if you’re trying to build a solid tradition for now and the future. Shaq is 35, Chandler is 24. Allen is 32, Miller is 27. Iverson is 32, Williams is 23.
The guys they chose not only fit better in desired roles (i.e. Chandler’s shot-blocking ability and Williams’ distributing. Ray Allen isn’t that much better of a shooter than Miller), but they’re just so much younger than the guys I would like to have seen as a fan. That means they’ll be around for longer and can play in the next two Olympic Games, barring injury of course.
Just think, When the 2016 Olympics roll around, Chandler will be 33. Deron Williams will be 32 and Mike Miller, well, Mike Miller’s career will likely be over at 36. But he’ll only be 32 during the 2012 Games, while Allen will be 37 and likely retired.
Just think, a 2016 Olympic team of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Greg Oden, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Tyson Chandler, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Amare Stoudemire and Brandon Roy!
If Durant and Oden live up to expectations, along with Wade, James, Anthony and Paul, we could be looking at another Dream Team in 2016. But I digress.
I still have my doubts about this current team. Not because of the roster. But because the USA squad has laid an egg for it seems like the past decade. Our last gold medal in 2000 seems like a lifetime ago after the way we were waxed in the 2004 Olympics and the 2002 and ’06 World Championship games.
But I expect this team to run through this week’s tourney by routing the competition to easily receive a birth in the 08 games. But when they get to Beijing next summer, I now know anything can happen.