Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 15th 2015 Contents A49
Saturday, August 15, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
LAS VEGAS---While many countries are
still trying to qualify for the Olympics, the
US is already lining up guys to play.
Not just next summer, but potentially five
summers down the line.
Firmly perched atop the basketball world
but forever mindful of how they were once
knocked off, the Americans took a few days
this week to begin their preparations for 2016.
And 2020. And way beyond that.
"We re trying to build something that can
last forever," LeBron James said.
The Americans didn t exactly work hard in
this city better known for fun. The practices
were short and light, though it s not like they
have tons to do. Ten months before picking
the team, USA Basketball chairman Jerry
Colangelo already says if everyone is healthy,
this will be the best US squad yet.
Besides, they didn t really come here to do
drills. They came for moments like the opening
of the first practice, which demonstrated what
Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski have
The Americans posed for a team picture,
five rows of about 40 players, coaches and
officials representing the past, present and
future of the programme, from guys who have
been in the programme for a decade to others
who are just starting their international careers.
Some won in Beijing and London. Many
will have their shot in Rio de Janeiro. Others
might have to wait until Tokyo in 2020, but
the process for that has already begun.
"We don t only have a pool of players, we
have a pool of gold-medal winners. But you
still have to bring new guys in because it s
going to keep going and even if, say a guy
would not make the team next year, he poten-
tially could be a star (later). That s how you
have to keep the culture going and thank good-
ness that these guys have recommitted each
time," Krzyzewski said.
The national team is 75--1 since Colangelo
implemented the programme following the
Americans bronze-medal finish in Athens in
2004. He and Krzyzewski built something in
which the NBA s best not only want to play,
but want to keep doing it.
James and Carmelo Anthony could become
the first American four-time men s basketball
Olympians. Even Hall of Famer David Robin-
son, a Navy graduate and only other US player
to compete in three, can t believe how much
today s players keep returning.
"It seemed like interest started to wane
around 2000 and 2004. I didn t think anybody
was going to want to do it that many times,
especially when you re not getting paid," Robin-
son said. "But like I said, the culture that
they ve created now, the guys take a lot of
pride in it, they re taking pride in our country
and I just think it s fantastic."
It just briefly seemed in jeopardy of weak-
ening last summer.
A series of player withdrawals before the
Basketball World Cup, most notably Kevin
Durant, and the Americans first serious injury
with Paul George s broken leg---Colangelo
called it a tragedy---left some wondering if the
international experience still mattered.
In fact, it felt like 2004. But in Colangelo s
program, stability quickly replaces uncertain-
"Yeah, it s come a long way," said former
NBA executive Stu Jackson, who was on the
selection committee in 2004.
"And I think the structure, the process with
which they pick the team was a very needed
change and we owe that all to Jerry Colan-
Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis and Kyrie
Irving helped the Americans win gold in Spain
and could be among the players who carry
the program forward once James, Anthony
and Chris Paul decide they re done.
Playing in Beijing was a no-brainer, with
the US reputation to repair and sneakers to
sell in basketball-crazed China. Anthony said
players and the companies they endorse are
still trying to figure out the opportunities in
the Brazilian market, but David M Carter,
principal of The Sports Business Group, said
the players have an advantage with the NBA s
"Combine this expertise with the global
stage afforded NBA players during the
Olympics, and each and every one of them
should think long and hard prior to questioning
the value of participating," Carter said.
"While risks exist, they should be deemed
measured risks where the upside of partici-
pating far outweighs declining the invitation.
This is particularly the case for NBA stars
hoping to have high-profile and lucrative
careers once their playing days are over."
Colangelo and Krzyzewski can choose a ros-
ter from the players here this week and even
potentially Kobe Bryant, who he said could
The Americans are in great shape and they
know it. Joining Colangelo and Gen Martin
Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
earlier Thursday in a leadership seminar at
Nellis Air Force Base, Krzyzewski said the
Americans have learned from past mistakes
and understand what it takes in international
"Unless we screw up internally," he said,
"we should win." (AP)
US men's basketball looks
ready for Rio after minicamp
Andre Drummond past Blake Griffin
during the second half of a US men's
basketball intrasquad game on
Thursday in Las Vegas. AP PHOTOS
Blake Griffin dunks the ball against DeAndre
Jordan (53) during a US men's basketball
intrasquad game on Thursday, in Las Vegas.
Sacramento Kings All-Star DeMarcus Cousins
scored 24 points to lead the White team to a
134--128 victory over the Blue team.
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