Perhaps it's not the biggest story to come out of the world of hoops this past fortnight, but one of the ramifications of the LeBron James signing last week is the decision by each of the twelve players on the gold-medal winning 2008 Olympic basketball team to take a powder in this year's 2010 FIBA Championships. The tournament, to be played in Turkey starting in late-August, has always been the sickly step-child of the Olympics, although the participation of a number of key players on the 2006 bronze medalists, including James, current Heat-mates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, as well as Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, presaged their commitment to the national team in the run-up to Beijing. I suppose nothing would put a damper on the South Florida hype more than losing James or Wade (Bosh, with his two playoff appearances in seven years, strikes me more as the Larry Fine of the trio) to a season-ending injury chasing a loose ball against Tunisia.
Coach K will still have notables like Chauncey Billups, Rudy Gay, Amar'e Stoudemire, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose at his disposal, which should provide a stronger, younger nucleus for London in 2012. Moreover, since the US has not won the title since 1994, in spite of having access to NBA talent (the 2002 team, playing at home in Indianapolis, finished sixth, in spite of having Paul Pierce, Jermaine O'Neal, Baron Davis, Ben Wallace, and Michael Finley on the roster), any sort of victory that doesn't rely on having Kobe Bryant (injured) carry the load again will be appreciated.