Me too..I have nothing to do with this.
Originally Posted by bestkept
The US should win the FIBA Americas, but probably not the Olympics or the World Championships. Just because they got Kidd and Kobe doesn't necessarily mean they're better. They're probably worse off with Kobe - everyone knows how his ego gets in the way of playing as a team. And there are many more big egos in Team USA - too many showboating punks for the team to be cohesive enough against European powers.
A test of Dream Team's humility
Howard Beck, New York Times
Sunday, August 19, 2007
The Dream Team, in its various incarnations, has not lacked talent or star quality, only humility, cohesion and, occasionally, experience.
So it seemed appropriate when Jason Kidd, in a July team meeting, referenced his 28-0 record in international play, turned to his youthful compatriots LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and said, "I don't want to see you guys messing with that record, either."
It was an amusing quip. Anthony did not laugh.
"Nobody laughed," Anthony said, recalling the moment. "You can't laugh at a fact."
Humility, it seems, at last has crept back into the program - necessarily so after a recent string of pratfalls. The United States finished sixth at the 2002 World Championships, stumbled to a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics, then took bronze again at the 2006 World Championships.
It was last summer's failure in Japan that forced the American team to gather again this summer to qualify for the 2008 Olympics. The quest begins Wednesday, when the United States opens pool play at the FIBA Americas Championships in Las Vegas. The championship game will be played Sept. 2, with both teams earning a trip to Beijing in 2008.
The American team, packed with NBA stars such as Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudemire, Kidd, Anthony and James, is a heavy favorite to win the 10-team tournament. But then, recent history suggests that the label is illusory, if not downright foolish.
"We're not supposed to lose, not with the team that we have," Anthony said in a telephone interview after a practice last week. One of the few holdovers from 2004, when he was a baby-faced teenager, Anthony said the lesson learned in Athens was simple: "That we don't want to be disappointed anymore. We don't want to disappoint ourselves, our country."
The next two weeks will provide the first true test of an overhauled program that has placed an emphasis on experience, continuity and roster balance. There are still enough stars to light the desert sky, but they are complemented by a number of willing role players who will provide defense (Tayshaun Prince), rebounding (Nick Collison), shot blocking (Tyson Chandler) and three-point shooting (Mike Miller).
Although two of the team's brightest stars are among its youngest - James and Anthony, both 22 - the roster received an infusion of wisdom and seasoning in the form of Kidd (34), Bryant (29 on Thursday) and Chauncey Billups (30).
Bryant and Billups have won NBA championships, though neither has played in an Olympics. Kidd is the sole member of the last team to have won a gold medal, at the 2000 Olympics.
The United States is counting most heavily on continuity - a quality sorely lacking in the last decade or so, when the world caught up to the Americans. Jerry Colangelo, the Phoenix Suns' chairman who is now in charge of the U.S. team, put together a 32-man roster with a three-year commitment, ensuring that a core group will have ample experience together before the 2008 Olympics.
The group competing in Las Vegas will, barring injuries, be essentially the same group that plays in Beijing next summer.
"The continuity of this program that Jerry started is the biggest thing," said Mike D'Antoni, the Phoenix Suns' coach and a member of the American coaching staff led by Mike Krzyzewski. "You can pick up where we left off last year and what we did this summer and build on that instead of starting over again. In the past, teams literally, from coaching staffs to players, you always started over. The world is too good to not have some sense of continuity within the program, as the other countries have."
The 2007 team should benefit from a number of additions. Kidd, maybe the NBA's best point guard, and Bryant, perhaps the game's best shooting guard, both missed the 2006 World Championships because of injuries. Billups skipped the tournament for family reasons.
"We got a little older," D'Antoni said. "Last summer, I think our average age was about 21. We were really, really young."
Colangelo has attempted to address nearly every weakness that dogged the United States in 2004. He recruited selfless players to give the team balance. He recruited ace shooters (Miller, Michael Redd and J.J. Redick) to spread the floor and combat zone defenses.
The wisdom of creating a 32-man roster has been evident this summer. Injuries and other factors have knocked out 16 players, including three All-Star power forwards: Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer and Elton Brand. Still, the United States has Stoudemire, Chandler and Dwight Howard up front, which should be sufficient.
Among other top players who will miss this tournament (but are eligible to play next summer, if needed) are Gilbert Arenas, Lamar Odom, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Paul Pierce.
"You've got to prepare yourself," Colangelo said. "We did a great job of that. There's certainly enough talent here to be successful."
Argentina and Brazil, with a number of NBA players, figure to be the top challengers to the United States, which opens against Venezuela.
Winning the FIBA Americas tournament would hardly wash away the humiliation of 2004, or restore the old Dream Team mystique - but it would be a start. A gold medal also might help the NBA shift the national discussion away from referee-gambling scandals and back toward the greatness of its players.
"What I'm witnessing and what I'm a part of here is what is good about basketball," Colangelo said, noting that none of the players and coaches is compensated for his summer. "A bunch of guys willing to give up their time during the offseasons and put themselves at risk, to represent their country, speaks volumes about what's good about the game."