YourBlackWorld: Kobe Bryant, Lebron Create Buzz for Team USA

August 5, 2008

The U.S. is looking to regain its place on top with (from left) a roster of stars such as Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

The U.S. is looking to regain its place on top with (from left) a roster of stars such as Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

For the first time since Barcelona, there’s real buzz surrounding Olympic men’s basketball.

A big reason for the anticipation: the expected full-flowering of the American side — the so-called “Redeem Team” — after three years under the czarist leadership of U.S. men’s national-team program managing director Jerry Colangelo. Uncle Jerry will brook no excuses that invoke a lack of (take your pick) prep time, role players, humility, Kobe Bryant.

But as someone who sat in a near-empty RCA Dome at the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis — and was more appalled by the indifference of the Hoosier homefolks than by the sorry performance of sixth-place Team USA — I’m most juiced about the prospect of seeing a full and (by relatively demure Chinese standards) rocking Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium.

The hosts may be a long shot for a medal, but Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian will give the Chinese a chance. Iran will be there, representing the Americans’ diplomatic nemesis and providing an electric storyline.

Meanwhile, the international federation, FIBA, has done its part, choosing to fill out the draw by staging a single worldwide qualifying tournament. This has delivered a deep, European-flavored field: Last-minute Olympic entries from the qualifier, which concluded in Athens on July 20, are Croatia (always a rugged, sure-shooting side); Germany (with Dirk Nowitzki and the mercenary Chris Kaman); and Greece (the last team to beat the U.S. men — at the ’06 Worlds in Japan).

 

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