James Harden joins OKC Thunder teammates on U.S. team

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, plus Harden, are the first trio of NBA teammates to play on a U.S. Olympic team.
By John Rohde Published: July 7, 2012
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photo - OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER NBA BASKETBALL / MUG: Oklahoma City's James Harden (13) speaks during a press conference at the Integris Health Thunder Development Center in Oklahoma City,  Saturday, June 23, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER NBA BASKETBALL / MUG: Oklahoma City's James Harden (13) speaks during a press conference at the Integris Health Thunder Development Center in Oklahoma City, Saturday, June 23, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Thunder struck the Olympic Games on Saturday night as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden became the first trio of NBA teammates ever to represent Team USA in the same international competition.

Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka will play for Spain, which is considered one of the toughest challengers for Team USA in its quest to win its 14th Olympic gold medal in 18 Games.

A fifth Thunder member will participate in head athletic trainer Joe Sharpe assisting Team USA.

The men's basketball competition at the 2012 Olympics in London will be staged from July 29 to Aug. 12.

Durant and Westbrook were considered locks for the Olympic team, having led Team USA to the gold medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey.

Harden, meanwhile, continued his rise as one of the league's most prominent players by surviving the final cut to the 12-man roster.

“It's very special to have my two brothers here with me,” Durant told NBA TV of playing alongside Westbrook and Harden. “We've been going through everything in this league together. To go through this is something I'm really excited about. Our experience here is going to help us out throughout our NBA careers. I'm just looking forward to playing. After a tough (NBA) Finals loss (to Miami), playing together with these guys again is going to make it even better once we come back next year.”

Other Team USA members are Miami Heat forward LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, Philadelphia 76ers forward Andre Iguodala, center Tyson Chandler and forward Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks, plus point guard Chris Paul and former Oklahoma standout power forward Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Griffin, Iguodala and Harden were the final three selections to the roster.

Memphis forward Rudy Gay, guard Eric Gordon and No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis of New Orleans, who couldn't scrimmage this week because of a sprained ankle, will serve as alternates should any roster member become unavailable.

The final Team USA roster was in constant flux after injuries eliminated Dwight Howard (back), Dwyane Wade (knee), Derrick Rose (knee), Chris Bosh (abdomen) and LaMarcus Aldridge (hip). Lamar Odom withdrew his name from consideration.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks was in Las Vegas to watch Team USA practices and said he was impressed with what Harden showed.

“The two days that I saw, I thought James played well, but the other guys played just as well,” said Brooks, who on Sunday will head to Orlando for his team's summer league session. “I thought the practices were very competitive.”

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