Bryant and James leads early US basketball picks for London 2012
Monday, 16 January 2012
January 16 - USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo today announced a 20 strong field of finalists, headed by LA Lakers and Miami Heat stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James (pictured), for the London 2012 Olympic men's squad.
Of those selected, eight were part of the victorious team which took gold in style in Beijing in 2008, with three – Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade and James – also Olympic bronze medallists in 2004.
Bryant, a five time NBA champion with the Lakers, is the biggest star of the squad, but Colangelo praised the depth of the talent available.
"The selected finalists are a very, very talented group; the depth of the talent is extraordinary," he said.
"This selection decision was as difficult of a challenge as I've faced since I took on the USA National Team programme in 2005.
"I feel like we have an outstanding blend of talents from the 2008 Olympic and 2010 World Championship teams that won gold.
"Reducing to the official roster limit of 12 players will be an even tougher decision, but we'll evaluate how guys play during the 2011-12 NBA season."
Mike Krzyzewski heads the coaching staff leading the squad, which will be whittled down to 12 later this year, and he said that "aside from the obvious special basketball talents that all of these players possess, what struck me most about the finalists was their commitment to USA Basketball and the international basketball experience they have compiled.
"Among our 20 finalists, we have two players who possess 55 or more games of international experience, two with 40 or more international games under their belts and eight others who have played between 23 and 38 international games."
Though the squad boasts formidable experience, two have yet to play an international game – LaMarcus Aldridge (pictured) and Blake Griffin.
The US will be a heavy medal favourite, having taken a medal in every Games in which they have competed, winning 13 golds in that time.
Full squad: LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers), Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), Chauncey Billups (Los Angeles Clippers), Chris Bosh (Miami Heat), Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies), Eric Gordon (New Orleans Hornets), Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic), Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers), LeBron James (Miami Heat), Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves), Lamar Odom (Dallas Mavericks), Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers), Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls), Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder), Deron Williams (New Jersey Nets)
August 2011: American basketball chief's optimistic for London 2012 despite current NBA lockout
March 2011: Britain's basketball teams to take on USA in London 2012 warm-up matches
April 2010: James hits back at Colangelo criticism
April 2010: James warned London 2012 place at risk if he misses Turkey
July 2009: US coach to stay on for London 2012