U. S. Olympic basketball team starts slow
Talent was never going to be a problem for the U.S. men's basketball team heading to London as defending gold medal champions. But so far in the team's brief training camp, things haven't gone exactly to plan.
LAS VEGAS — LeBron James was stretched out against a wall Wednesday, answering a few questions before lacing up his Nikes. Carmelo Anthony was doing the same thing in the corner of the gym, while Kobe Bryant went about his business across the way.
Talent was never going to be a problem for the U.S. men's basketball team heading to London as defending gold medal champions. Never has been, ever since the Dream Team got together 20 years ago and changed the way the world plays basketball.
“We understand why we're here,” James said. “We're all superstars on our respective teams. Now we all have to be superstars on this team.”
Assuming that happens, any worries about bringing the gold home from London should pretty much vanish. Sure, Spain figures to be tough and the Russians and Argentines will pose challenges. And there are some who question the lack of height inside on this team.
But the U.S. roster is so deep and athletic that the early chatter is that this team could be even better than the last gold medal team — even without Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, both key performers in Beijing, along with that team's only true center, Dwight Howard.
“We have the potential,” James said. “But we'll see.”
Indeed, potential is a word used often about this year's version of the Dream Team, which opens its Olympic run with an exhibition game Thursday night against the Dominican Republic. Bryant said the other day he believes this team would even beat the original Dream Team, and coach Mike Krzyzewski — an assistant on the 1992 team — seemed inclined to agree with him.
“This team can be very good,” Krzyzewski said. “They're all in their prime or coming into their prime. In `92 you had Magic and Larry Bird, who were past their prime. But if they were all in their prime together in 1992 we'd never see a team like that again.”
Potential, though, will only take a team so far. And so far in their brief training camp on the UNLV campus, things haven't gone exactly to plan.
A team that was supposed to be in place even before arriving last week in this gambling city wasn't, thanks to injuries to Wade, Bosh, Howard and Derrick Rose. The full team wasn't even announced until Saturday, when Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala and James Harden were added to the roster.
Deron Williams couldn't scrimmage until signing his new $98 million contract Wednesday, Griffith missed a day of practice while tending to details of his new contract, and James has been limited in practice to rest up from the NBA playoffs. Oh, and Chris Paul sprained his right thumb on the first day of practice and missed several scrimmages.
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