- Joined Jul 14, 2003
Core of '08 hoops team might return in '10
LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and the core of the Olympic basketball champions could be back in USA uniforms next summer for the world championships.
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo met with half the team during the NBA All-Star break and said it's a "distinct possibility" that some of the gold medalists will play in Turkey in 2010.
During the meeting, which also included Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Chris Bosh, Colangelo said he wanted only a two-year commitment this time, with those years being 2010 and 2012. If the Americans win the world championships, they would automatically qualify for the London Games and not have to play in '11.
"They said they bought into that, let's do that," Colangelo said. "Now I think it's important, as far as I'm concerned, that's what they indicated then. I think that's really where they are. A lot of things could happen between now and '10, and we just have to play it by ear. I think right now we have the buy-in."
He believes at least some of them will keep that commitment.
"Yes, it's a distinct possibility that most of the core players of our Olympic team would represent us in Turkey," Colangelo told The Associated Press.
Colangelo added he is giving coach Mike Krzyzewski time to decide if he wants to return and expects to have a coach in place in the fall. New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, a U.S. assistant the last three years, is a leading candidate if Krzyzewski doesn't return.
Either way, the Americans plan to be ready for the world championships by holding a minicamp this summer for 24 young players who could be candidates for the team. Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose, the last two rookies of the year, along with likely No. 1 draft pick Blake Griffin from Oklahoma have accepted invitations.
Greg Oden and O.J. Mayo are among the 19 commitments Colangelo has received for the July 22-25 camp in Las Vegas, which will culminate with a blue-white exhibition game. Toronto Raptors coach Jay Triano will direct the camp, joined by assistant coaches Dave Cowens of Detroit, Utah's Tyrone Corbin, Kenny Gattison of New Orleans and Minnesota's Jerry Sichting.
The plan is to have a team capable of ending the Americans' run of futility in the world championships. The United States finished third in 2006 and hasn't won gold in the worlds since 1994. Colangelo believes the Americans would show more respect to other countries by taking the event -- bigger to some internationally than the Olympics -- more seriously than they have in the past.
"The rest of the world, the basketball world, looks at the world championships differently. In other words, they put a lot of emphasis on it, and it's important to show respect there, also," Colangelo said. "Our showing in the world championships in the last decade has not been very good, and so this is a chance to further show that respect by putting a lot of emphasis into it."