Newspaper article International New York Times

U.S. Team Still Shines Even without Biggest Stars ; No James or Curry, but It Still Is the Favorite to Win Gold at Olympics

Newspaper article International New York Times

U.S. Team Still Shines Even without Biggest Stars ; No James or Curry, but It Still Is the Favorite to Win Gold at Olympics

Article excerpt

Kevin Durant heads a 12-man roster that features three members of the Golden State Warriors and a largely interchangeable cast.

Stephen Curry isn't on the team, and neither is LeBron James or Russell Westbrook. Nor is Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul or James Harden.

Though all those players would be automatic selections to a "best American" basketball team, each has bowed out of consideration for the United States Olympic team, citing fatigue or injury.

But the 12 men who were named to the team Monday morning are still a formidable group and will be heavily favored to win another gold medal. In other words, the United States bench is deep.

The best American gymnasts or volleyball players would not pass up an Olympic opportunity. And most international men's basketball stars keep playing for their home countries as long as they can. Dirk Nowitzki was still plugging away last summer at age 37 for Germany at the European championship.

But with a grueling N.B.A. schedule just completed and another one around the corner, many of America's best have decided this is not the year to add a summer tournament to their schedules.

Does this open up an opportunity for Nigeria or Venezuela to win the gold in Rio? Well, no.

The United States team starts with one no-arguments superstar, Kevin Durant. No other country will feature a player who nears his all-around skills.

Curry is missing, but the other Splash Brother, Klay Thompson, is on the team, along with his Warriors teammates Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes. Though James is taking the summer off, the N.B.A. champion Cleveland Cavaliers are represented by Kyrie Irving.

The American team is notably versatile. Except for the two centers, DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan, and the two point guards, Irving and Kyle Lowry, every player is listed from 6 feet 7 to 6-9, and many play multiple positions.

Paul George is also on the team, despite having sustained a serious leg injury while training for the 2014 World Cup of Basketball, which caused him to miss nearly a full N. …

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