Kobe Bryant will be the centerpiece of the new-look USA
Basketball team that is expected to improve upon a disappointing
bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics.
Bryant brings NBA championship credentials and high-powered
scoring, joining Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and 20 other players
selected Sunday for a possible spot on the world championship and
2008 Beijing Olympic teams.
"It's his time," USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said of
Bryant. "He's 27 years old now. He should try to assume a position
of leadership in the team. I would think he's very hungry to do
this. I see him fitting in very, very well."
Bryant was supposed to play in Athens, but withdrew because of
his sexual assault trial in Colorado. Criminal charges eventually
were dropped, and he settled a civil suit with his accuser.
Lamar Odom, Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire and Dwyane Wade --
members of the 2004 Athens team -- also were selected to the roster.
They'll be joined by Gilbert Arenas, Shane Battier, Chauncey Billups, Chris Bosh, Bruce Bowen and Elton Brand.
The selections were first reported by ESPN.com Insider Chris Sheridan on Tuesday.
National team managing director Jerry Colangelo announced the
team. He was appointed last April and hired Krzyzewski after the
United States finished a disappointing sixth in the 2002 worlds in
Indianapolis and third in Athens.
"We wanted a team not of individual stars, but athleticism,
shooters, role players and distributors," Colangelo said.
"Chemistry is something we all talk about, we seek."
College players J.J. Redick (Duke) and Adam Morrison (Gonzaga)
also were chosen.
"They're both great scorers," Krzyzewski said. "I think some
collegiate players going into this type of situation would be a
little bit intimidated. I don't think either one of these guys
will. They more define the specialist role."
"The thing is they got guys that are willing to make a
three-year commitment, which I think is tremendous," Larry Brown,
the U.S. coach in Athens, said Friday. "We had guys that committed
and then all of a sudden 9/11 happened, and then there were
Allen Iverson, a member of the bronze-medal team, was not
invited to training camp. Colangelo said he was looking for more
distributors of the ball, not scorers.
He also said Billups and Redd will miss the world championships
in August because of previous obligations. Billups is a new father,
and Redd will be getting married.
Players will attend training camp in Las Vegas in July, then
travel to China and South Korea for exhibition games before a
12-man roster is selected for the world championships in Japan.
A training camp in 2007 -- and possibly regional Olympic
qualifying -- will be followed by a camp and more exhibition games
in 2008 before the Beijing Olympics.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.