With NBA stars such as Jason Kidd, Ray Allen, and Dwight Howard recently focused on which teams they'll play for next season, the biggest names in the sport now know they'll be heading to London this summer to represent the U.S. in the Olympic Games.
Blake Griffin, James Harden, and Andre Iguoda officially made the cut to play for Team USA at the Olympics. They'll be joining the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Deron Williams, and six other superstars, as noted by Yahoo Sports.
Howard withdrew from consideration to take time to recuperate from an injury. His absence -- along with those of Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh -- left open a few spots for younger players to step in and not only gain some experience at the games but also complement the rest of the roster.
USA Basketball's Jerry Colangelo was concerned about the names that will miss the Olympics, which will officially begin for Team USA when it plays France on July 29, but he didn't appear to have any reservations about the younger players, according to the Associated Press.
[A]s the dust settles, I'm proud to say that we've put together in my opinion a terrific team with great athleticism and great versatility, and we believe we're going to be successful, Colangelo said. He has good reason to be confident: The biggest names on his roster are returning to the games after winning the gold medal in 2008.
The new recruits might look just as good once this year's Olympic Games are over.
Griffin showed he was healthy again after being slowed by a knee injury during the playoffs, putting on an impressive dunking display following practice Saturday, AP reported. Harden, the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year with Oklahoma City, gives the Americans more scoring punch off the bench, and Iguodala is a defensive specialist who can guard multiple positions.
Training camp for the team opened Friday in Las Vegas for Team USA, where they'll practice through Wednesday. An exhibition game against the Dominican Republic is scheduled to take place Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times. No word on whether the exhibition game will include a mercy rule.
Serge Ibaka will make his Olympics debut this summer with Spain, a team that also includes Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio, and the Fernandez brothers, Marc and Rudy. Even though Ibaka hasn't played one game in the tournament, he apparently feels comfortable enough to tell AP in an account carried by ESPN that the silver medalists in 2008 are on the same level as Team USA.
They are just like us, they also have players with a lot of talent, Ibaka said. They are a different team to 2008, but their players are still very good.
This is going to be fun.