Updated: August 4, 2012, 1:31 PM ET

Four Non-Team USA Players Of Note

By Beckley Mason

After leaving the NBA to return to Russia, Andrei Kirilenko is turning in an all-time "Remember me?" performance -- making his two-year, $20 million contract with Minnesota look reasonable. At times before he left Utah, Kirilenko looked sluggish and disinterested. But with his countrymen beside him, he's been the rangy, slashing, two-way force that made him an NBA All-Star.

The Russian national team's Princeton-informed offense involves plenty of passing and cutting, and Kirilenko has looked great catching on the go then performing a quick move to reach the basket. That's great news in Minnesota, where coach Rick Adelman runs similar sets.

Read the rest of Mason's take on TrueHoop, ESPN.com's NBA blog »

Lithuania Brings Strong Olympic Pedigree

By Marc Stein

LONDON -- Having covered only one Olympics before this one, back in 2000 in Sydney, I will never forget the stampede of reporters frantically running into the basketball venue once word began to spread that Lithuania and a former Maryland guard named Sarunas Jasikevicius were threatening to upset the mighty United States in the semifinals.

The Lithuanians and Americans met twice that year in the Olympic basketball tournament, with Team USA taking the two encounters by a mere 11 points combined, barely holding on for a two-point win in the semifinals when the plucky floor general couldn't quite connect on a 3-pointer at the buzzer after scoring 27.

Such memories naturally come flooding back in advance of Saturday's Group A game between the teams, especially since Jasikevicius, now 36, is still running the show on occasion for the Lithuanians in his fourth Olympics.

"Saras is the best quarterback Lithuania has ever had," said Dallas Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, using Jasikevicius' well-known nickname. Nelson served as an assistant on the Lithuanian bench for multiple trips to the Olympics at the request of close friend and Lithuanian legend Sarunas Marciulionis.

Read the rest from Stein

Dreamlike Sequence In London

By Marc Stein

LONDON -- The biggest victory in Dream Team history was a 79-point pounding of Cuba before the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

The current Team USA, of course, just trumped that rout with its 83-point runaway Thursday night against Nigeria.

So what do the Dream Teamers make of the 2012ers now?

Reaction to the 156-73 win is just starting to trickle in, but ESPN.com has spoken to two of the original Dreamers, both of whom showed little interest in fanning the flames of the recent verbal sparring between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

Said Dream Team legend Magic Johnson when reached by phone Friday: "I want to congratulate the guys on their continued dominance in London. This is starting to look a lot like our 1992 Dream Team. I look forward to watching them continue to drive for that gold medal and bring it home for the USA."

The initial quippy reaction from Charles Barkley, meanwhile, when reached by ESPN.com: "That's probably how many points they'd beat the '92 team by ... if we played today."

Read the rest from Stein


You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?