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Colangelo Plans Gathering of 2008 and 2010 Team USA Gold Medalists

Nov 5, 2010 – 7:45 PM
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Chris Tomasson

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Every time Jerry Colangelo turns around, another player from the 2008 Olympic team is committing through the media for the 2012 Games.

"I don't even need to reach out to them,'' the USA Basketball chairman said in an interview with FanHouse on Friday "They're doing it for me. ... The end of the story is the fact so many guys have been outspoken about wanting to play in (London) is wonderful and music to our ears.''

This week, key 2008 gold medalists Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwight Howard all told the media they were in for 2012. Last summer, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul publicly declared it at a USA Basketball event in New York, although Anthony has never wavered from that desire. And Deron Williams told FanHouse last week he wants to play in London.

So that's six of the top eight scorers from 2008 to have said they want to make another run at an Olympic gold. Of the other two, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh say it's too early to make a decision.

"I think back to 2005, when I was asked to take over USA Basketball,'' Colangelo said. "A lot of players didn't care about representing their country. History can speak for itself what has taken place. It's fulfilling how players have come forward without any prodding.''

Team USA also won gold at the 2010 FIBA World Championships without any holdovers from 2008. Colangelo dismissed the notion that top players committing now isn't worth much since many committed for the Worlds before dropping out. He also dismissed that the 2008 gold medalists might regard the Olympics as more prestigious than the Worlds.

Regardless, Colangelo is hopeful next summer to bring gold medalists from the 2008 and 2010 teams, which both had 12-man rosters, to an event in Las Vegas. He talked with Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski at a leadership conference late last month and that idea was hatched.

"We think it would be a terrific time next summer to bring hypothetically 24 guys, although don't hold me to that number, together for a weekend to celebrate what they accomplished and talk about the plans for 2012,'' Colangelo said. "We could probably do that in Las Vegas because that's the summer home (for USA Basketball).''

Colangelo said 24 is not an absolute number but said the 22 players with gold medals who are on Team USA's 35-man working roster for the 2010 and 2012 events would be invited. Two players off the 2008 team are not on that roster due to Jason Kidd having retired from international competition and Michael Redd being injured. Colangelo said some other top players off the working roster could be invited to Las Vegas but it's too early to speculate on names.

"I would say there's a good chance of that happening,'' Colangelo said of the event. "Kind of a celebration and to plan conceptually about going forward.''

Colangelo said the two dozen or so players wouldn't do any court work. Because of that, Colangelo said the possibility of an NBA lockout wouldn't hamper the gathering.

By winning the Worlds last summer in Turkey, Team USA qualified automatically for the 2012 Olympics. However, Colangelo said there's still a possibility USA Basketball might send a team of up-and-coming NBA players to Argentina for next summer's Tournament of the Americas, which is an Olympic qualifier.

"We are being asked,'' Colangelo said about fielding a team. "It might be some good young NBA players to give them a chance to get some experience. But we are only contemplating that.''

Colangelo said it's too early to speculate whether a possible NBA lockout would affect such plans. He said there wouldn't be any players off the 35-man working roster who might go to Argentina.

As for those 35, the list eventually could grow by several names. Colangelo said Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Washington guard John Wall are among those on a "watch list'' to possibly be added for consideration for the 2012 Olympics.

Colangelo reiterated he expects the 2012 team to mostly be a combination of the 2008 and 2010 teams. But he said it's too early to speculate how much each team might be represented in London.

For now, Colangelo is content to sit back and listen as 2008 Olympians commit for 2012.

Chris Tomasson can be reached at tomasson@fanhouse.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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