Team USA walked into the Dunlevy Milbank Center on Monday, parting a sea of kids on the Harlem gym floor for the unveiling of the Rio roster.
There was Kyrie Irving, fresh off helping Cleveland claim its first NBA crown. But the MVP of the Finals wasn’t among the dozen Olympians on hand. LeBron James chose rest over a fourth stint in the Olympics.
“Whatever his reasoning was, I respect it,” Irving said. “He was supportive of me playing. Obviously, I tried to recruit him to play. But hey, man, that guy has done unbelievable this season. I hope he’s watching at home, and I hope I can bring a gold medal back to Cleveland.”
Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team likes its chances for a third straight gold even without King James and fellow 2012 Olympians Kobe Bryant (who retired), Anthony Davis (who had knee surgery) and James Harden, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook (who all withdrew from consideration). Stephen Curry withdrew, too.
“I mean, 12 NBA stars, very unselfish guys, very versatile team — I think we definitely should be favored,” the Warriors’ Klay Thompson said. “It’s a disappointment if we don’t win gold. That’s how we all feel. That’s how we should feel.”
Carmelo Anthony, who contributed to the golden efforts in Beijing and London, and the Thunder’s Kevin Durant, the leading scorer from the 2012 team, are the only returnees.
Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Golden State’s Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green, Indiana’s Paul George, the L.A. Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry join Irving and Thompson as the newcomers.
“We don’t have as many big-name guys [as] we’ve had before,” Anthony said, “but I think so far, this is a great group of guys, and they’re hungry.”
Carmelo Anthony, F, Knicks
Harrison Barnes, F, Warriors
Jimmy Butler, G-F, Bulls
DeMarcus Cousins, C-F, Kings
DeMar DeRozan, G, Raptors
Kevin Durant, F, Thunder
Paul George, F, Pacers
Draymond Green, F, Warriors
Kyrie Irving, G, Cavaliers
DeAndre Jordan, C, Clippers
Kyle Lowry, G, Raptors
Klay Thompson, G, Warriors