Team USA on Olympic mission

LAS VEGAS — Although the collective talent of the newest group representing American basketball can probably be compared to the great Olympic team of 1992, there is one area where the current group cannot compete. That was evident Saturday when no one said, “I don’t know anything about Tunisia, but Tunisia is in trouble.”

Yes, for the fourth straight Olympics, there will be no Charles Barkley on Team USA, so colorful headlines and international incidents will likely be at a minimum.

But there will be something fascinating about Team USA in 2012 because the world will get to see exactly how deep American talent is.

Twelve players made the team that was announced on NBA TV (as opposed to NBC, where the Dream Team was announced in 1991). It is a versatile roster that includes 10 players who can play more than one position. Only center Tyson Chandler and point guard Chris Paul are true one-position players.

The team has great scorers in Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James.

It has great defenders in Kobe Bryant, Andre Iguodala and Chandler.

It has explosive players in Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin and James Harden.

It has classic point guards in Deron Williams and Paul. And it has a great combination rebounder/3-point shooter in Kevin Love.

What it doesn’t have, however, is Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge or Derrick Rose – five of the top players in the NBA. Each is recovering from injury and is not available. So the question is: Can the U.S. replace five of its best players and still have enough talent to defeat the rest of the world?

The players say yes, and in Thgreat tradition of Michael Jordan – who never let an insult, real or imagined, pass – the players are creating incentive for themselves.

(The remainder of the original column can be viewed here at

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