DENVER -- Marcus Camby wanted to help Team USA qualify for
the 2008 Beijing Olympics this summer, but he's putting his family before the flag.
Camby, the NBA's defensive player of the year, declined an
invitation from USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo to
participate in the team's camp in Las Vegas this summer because of
a pressing family matter.
"Marcus was honored to get invited and he really wanted to do
it, but a personal family situation requires his full attention
this summer," Camby's agent, Rick Kaplan, said Thursday. "He
would love to have played for Team USA, but he can't make that
commitment because he has to focus on his family right now.
"It was a gut-wrenching decision, but the one he had to make."
Earlier this month, Camby's wife delivered the couple's second child, a girl.
Colangelo was looking for a defensive specialist to complement
the Americans' usual offensive stars that fill the roster, and
Camby would have fit the bill.
He averaged 11.7 boards last season, when he led the league with
3.3 blocks per game. He was named to the All-Defensive team for the
first time and was voted the league's top defender at age 33.
In April, the 33-year-old Camby was named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year for the first time in his 11-year pro career. He averaged a league-best 3.3 blocks to go with 11.2 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. He also averaged 1.24 steals, tops among NBA centers.
Camby's steady play on defense was about the only constant in another season of turmoil in Denver. The Nuggets were dogged by suspensions, trades, injuries and illnesses before finally finding a rhythm and going a franchise-best 10-1 in April to secure a fourth straight trip to the playoffs.
Nuggets coach George Karl said he's never had a better defender in his 19 seasons as an NBA coach.
"When Marcus is on one of those nights where he's roaming around taking away everything, it's pretty intimidating," Karl said in April. "I've not been around a player that can intimidate a game with his defensive and rebounding the way Marcus can, my whole career.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.