The Olympic Games are still two years out. That doesn’t mean meaningful basketball won’t be played on the international level.
As the United States begins its preparation for the World Championships which begin Aug. 28 in Istanbul, they’ll do so with almost an entirely new lineup.
Insurance concerns will keep Amare Stoudemire off the team, adding his name to a list that includes Robin Lopez and perhaps David Lee.
All 12 Olympians from the gold-medal winning Olympic team just two years ago won’t be a part of this year’s World Championship, but that doesn’t mean the U.S. is shooting for anything by the top.
USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo joined ESPN 980 in DC with the John Thompson Show to discuss the U.S. team’s ambitions, the fallout from the Big Three and players that will be considered in the future:
On the U.S.’s hopes of winning a gold medal:
“As challenging as it may appear on paper, there’s an excitement about taking a group of young, outstanding young players and trying to mold them into a team and compete on a high level at the world championships. … That’s very challenging, in terms of the Worlds, to have a young group compete, but I have a feeling that the talent level and the attitude that we see here, and the enthusiasm is going to put us in pretty good shape.”
On the significance of the World Championship to the United States:
“Every other country puts the World Championships at least on a par, and in most cases above the Olympics. Only in the United States do we put the Olympics so far ahead of the World Championships. What we witnessed this Summer with the World Cup in soccer is what basketball people around the world are hoping to accomplish. … We haven’t won the World Championship since 1994 and that has to stop.”
On the criteria for forming a good team:
“First of all, it doesn’t take a genius to look at statistics and physical attributes to say who your top players are. We try to look at the whole package, if you will. … In my mind, basketball is the ultimate team game. You need five players, you need bench players, you need people who have roles and accept roles. That’s what we’re looking for.”
On whether the Big Three will create a fallout at the national level:
“I would hope not because I think it would be ill-founded. Those three young guys came out of the draft together a few years ago, in the top five and have been friends ever since. Sure, their relationship during the time together with USA basketball was very positive and maybe it was enhanced. If players want to get together … you know they’re going to get together one way or another.”
On whether John Wall is a player on USA basketball’s radar:
“I was called and asked whether Wall would be added and, because we had so many point guards already committed, it just wasn’t appropriate at this particular time. But he’s absolutely on our radar screen as we go forward.”