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Oklahomans in the Olympics: U.S. men's basketball team features five familiar faces

Five of the 12 players on Team USA have played professionally in Oklahoma: Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook.
BY RJ YOUNG Staff Writer ryoung@opubco.com Published: July 15, 2012
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Oklahoma will be well-represented on the U.S. men's basketball Olympics team when the team opens competition in London.

Five of the 12 players on the U.S. squad headed for London played basketball professionally in Oklahoma. The group includes Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook.

Durant, Harden and Westbrook will be just over a month removed from reaching the NBA Finals with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder's Joseph Sharpe also will accompany the team as an athletic trainer.

The Thunder is the only NBA team to ever have three players on a U.S. men's basketball Olympic team at the same time.

Durant spoke about what it means for him to be able to play with his Thunder teammates.

“It's very special to have my two brothers here with me,” Durant told NBA TV after hearing Harden was added to the team. “We've been going through everything in this league together. To go through this is something I'm really excited about.”

Chandler and Paul were first welcomed to Oklahoma when Oklahoma City hosted the Hornets after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005. The team stayed for two seasons before permanently relocating to New Orleans.

Chandler almost returned for a second stint in Oklahoma City. In February 2009, the Hornets traded him to the Thunder, but the trade was rescinded because of the Thunder's concerns over Chandler's health.

Team USA originally featured a sixth player with state ties. Former OU and Oklahoma Christian School standout Blake Griffin was on the Olympic team before he had to withdraw after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee.


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