London 2012

Report: Coach K To Stick With USA Basketball?



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – When the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team finished off the competition at the London Olympics in 2012, head coach Mike Krzyzewski was primed to ride off into the sunset with a sparking 62-1 record, two gold medals in Olympic competition (2008 in Beijing) and one in World Championship competition (2010 Istanbul).

Every indication was that the longtime Duke coach had finished the job USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo needed him to and that his replacement would be sought while Coach K moved on in some capacity to assist Colangelo manage the rebuilt program.

But now comes word, via a report from SI.com‘s Pete Thamel, that Coach K is reconsidering his future with the program and could potentially return as coach of the team for the 2014 World Championship in Madrid and the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.

It’s an abrupt about-face after months and months of speculation about who might replace Krzyzewski on the sideline with the Men’s Senior National Team and also a stern departure from Coach K’s own words, as recently as February on an ESPN Radio program where he suggested that his successor could be named by this summer.

Things changed dramatically today, per that SI.com report:

On Saturday, Krzyzewski said he and USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo have been talking about his return “quite a bit.”

Colangelo said Saturday he and Krzyzewski have been discussing his return “in installments.”

“I think it’s very close to being resolved,” Colangelo said. “That’s all I can say for sure.”

He added: “Give it another week and it should be resolved.”

Nailing down a head coach is the only outstanding business Colangelo has to tend to right now, because the player pool for the national team is as strong now as it’s since he took over in 2005.

Scores of NBA superstars, All-Stars and role players will be eager to be a part of the teams that represent the U.S. in Madrid and Rio De Janeiro. And that list should include four-time MVP LeBron James as well as All-Stars Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and plenty more.

Were Coach K to return to the program, procuring commitments for future competition wouldn’t appear to be much of an issue, given his history with so many of the players that would be in the mix. The continuity alone would ensure that the U.S. program resembles, at least in structure, many of the international programs they’ll compete against in the coming years.

Blatt Says ‘Nyet’ To Russia; NBA Next?

The question about David Blatt only flared up every two or four years, at least among casual fans of international basketball: Why isn’t that guy coaching in the NBA or at a major college program?

For seven years, Blatt -– born outside Boston, played at Princeton –- worked as coach of Russia’s national team. The American-Israeli serves in the same capacity as Maccabi Tel Aviv in Brooklyn. But his global work schedule will be opening up considerably with his decision, as announced by the Russian Basketball Federation and reported by Eurobasket.com, to step down from duty with Big Red’s national squad:

“Russia was a big part of my professional life. Our common achievements were exceptional and historical, and our impact on Russian basketball growth was tremendous,” Blatt said in a statement issued by the Russian Basketball Federation.

“These seven mutual years were amazing and I quit while Russian basketball is at a peak as the entire basketball world follows it closely.”

Blatt’s work with the Russians was impressive. He led them to a gold medal in the 2007 EuroBasket games, knocking off heavily favored Spain, 60-59. He helped them score a bronze in the same tournament in 2011 and Russia finished third to Team USA and Spain in the London Olympics in August. (more…)

USA Basketball: Back On Top … Next Up?





LONDON – USA Basketball chairman and managing director Jerry Colangelo doesn’t play the “what if” game. He refuses to even entertain it, whether it’s in regards to the program he runs, the games the teams play or the future of the game of basketball around the globe.

He is simply not interested in delving into the hypothetical world of what would, could or should have been. And when you are the architect and steward of an operation that has won 50 straight games on the world stage, it’s probably wise to deal strictly in the here and now.

So you’ll have to excuse Colangelo for not being as nervous as some were in the final minutes of the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team’s gold medal triumph over Spain Sunday at North Greenwich Arena, the 107-100 final score was the closest in an Olympic final in 40 years.

“What if Marc Gasol hadn’t gotten into foul trouble?” someone asked from deep in the back of a scrum. (more…)

U.S. Surges Past Spain Late, Claims Second Straight Olympic Gold Medal

LONDON – When it was all over, when the game was finished and the smiles had replaced looks of concern and after Bruce Springsteen‘s “Born in the USA” had served as the soundtrack for a crowd loving every minute of this billion-dollar collection of NBA stars wrapped up in American flags bowing for the audience, they locked arms, rose as one and stepped onto the medal stand to claim their prize.

The U.S. Men’s Senior National Team completed its gold medal mission Sunday, holding off a feisty Spain team 107-100 at North Greenwich Arena  in the Olympic final to claim a matching gold medal for the one they captured four years ago in Beijing. The difference between pure joy and relief, though, is hard to make out with the stars and stripes covering their faces.

“Anytime you’re going for a championship there is a sense of relief, especially when you win,” Deron Williams said. “It’s been a long five weeks for us. We’ve been on the road since July 5th and it’s good to know that you’ve finished what you started.”

They actually completed a mission that started eight years ago with a blueprint to resurrect a USA Basketball program that had fallen on hard times after coming up empty in quests for gold at the 2002 World Championship in Indianapolis and the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

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U.S.-Spain Game Blog!

LONDON — UPDATE 12:17 p.m. Medal ceremony going on right now. U.S. clad in smooth black warm ups to snag their gold medals. They won 107-100 to claim their second straight Olympic gold over Spain.

To repeat or not to repeat: that is the question facing the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team today, just minutes away from their gold medal rematch with Spain in the Olympic finals.

(Sorry, but a visit to London without at least one Billy Shakespeare reference would have been a travesty. We had to go there.)

They did this four years ago, playing a to-the-wire game in Beijing that the U.S. pulled out late for a 118-107 victory that both sides have had four long years to think about.

You know Spain’s big man brother duo of Pau and Marc Gasol have been thinking about it and hearing about it since then, especially Pau (something tells me Kobe Bryant has brought it up a time or two over the years).

Spain actually had one distinct advantage over the U.S. four years ago, in that the core group of their roster had been playing together for years, “since they were 12 or 13,” according to point guard Jose Calderon.

The U.S. has closed that gap. USA Basketball’s program is as solid as it’s been in years and arguably ever, courtesy of the commitment of guys like Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and others.

A second straight gold medal validates everything USA Basketball chairman and managing director Jerry Colangelo and U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski have worked to build since taking over the program after the debacle at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

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LeBron Can Cap Best Year With Gold

LONDON – He didn’t have to be here.

He could have spent this summer lying on a beach somewhere as far removed from the game of basketball as humanly possible. He could have avoided the crush of being one of the four or five most recognizable people — Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, British gold medal-winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis, Kobe Bryant and royals Kate Middleton and Prince William — in this city right now.

No one would have blamed LeBron James for finally taking a little time away from his life’s passion. After a decade of chasing a legacy, and a championship, he finally secured his title, leading the Miami Heat past Oklahoma City in The Finals. James won his third NBA regular season MVP award and snagged a Finals MVP to add to his treasure chest.

With a chance to add a gold medal to his 2012 haul Sunday in the Olympic final against Spain, James is attempting to add an extra layer on top of a cake already drowning in icing. Only Michael Jordan has had a comparable season, piling up all of the aforementioned honors, and that came 20 years ago when he led the Chicago Bulls to the second of what would be six NBA titles and then spent his summer dazzling the world while leading the original Dream Team to gold in the Barcelona Olympics.

Even on a team filled with superstars, James is the headliner and biggest star, playing in a comfort zone and an elite level no one else in this competition or beyond can match.

And now he’s got a chance to cap his best year with gold in a rematch of the 2008 gold meal game in Beijing won by the U.S. Team.

“I don’t think you could have written this script any better for him,” said U.S. forward Kevin Durant, dazzling in his own right throughout this competition, and James’ chief rival with the Thunder during the NBA season. “I’m sure that would be fine for him, the way this has all played out so far. You can’t beat that right there.”

In just two short years, James has gone from the daunting task of trying to live up to expectations few athletes of any generation have ever had to literally winning it all.

Having his best year after his toughest year has to make this current run even for James.

“I would have hoped that this would be it,” James said of the moment, the year, when it all came together. “I would be able to compete for a championship, and win a championship in the NBA. And also be a part of this team and compete for a gold medal. If I would have had to map it out it would have been like this … it’s going in the right direction.”

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LeBron James: Count Me Out For Olympics If Age-Limit Is Imposed




LONDONLeBron James said Saturday that he would not play in future Olympic Games if the NBA establishes a 23-year-old age limit for future competitions.

“If the 23 rule goes in, I’m not playing,” James said before the U.S. team’s final practice here, before Sunday’s gold medal game against Spain. “Then, look–all my guys ain’t playing, either. So, no, I’m good. If the rule doesn’t go in, I don’t know. Then it’s an I don’t know thing, and that means there’s a chance. But there’s no chance if the 23 rule goes in.”

James is 27, so he’d already be too old if the rule was adopted. However, basketball is expected to adopt the same parameters as FIFA, soccer’s international governing body. FIFA has established a 23-year-old rule for participants in Olympic soccer. However, each team is allowed three exceptions to that rule, and James would definitely be one of the players that USA Basketball would invite to continue playing.

The 2012 Olympic team is a blend of the 2008 Olympic team that won the gold medal in Beijing, and the 2010 team that captured the gold medal at the World Championships in Turkey. James said he doesn’t want to start over with another group of players.

“Teams are built on friendship and camaraderie, and being together,” James said. “You can’t just piece together no team and think it’s going to happen. We’ve seen that in ’04, with our team (which, beset by internal problems, only won the bronze in Athens). We threw our team together in ’04 and thought we could compete against the world, and we got smashed. It took us a three-year commitment to win gold. This team is basically the ’10 team and the ’08 team put together, with the same coaching staff. I love what we’ve got going on with USA Basketball, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

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Kobe: LA Is a Better Fit For Howard

LONDON – Until earlier today, Dwight Howard‘s entire NBA career was spent in a Orlando Magic uniform.

But Kobe Bryant didn’t need to Howard him in purple and gold to know that he’s a better fit in Los Angeles and with the Lakers, on and off the court, than he ever was in Orlando.

The job of blending Howard’s game into what the Lakers will do with a star-studded lineup that also includes two-time MVP Steve Nash and All-Star power forward Pau Gasol is ultimately the responsibility of Lakers coach Mike Brown.

Bryant said it won’t be an issue.

“He’s not going to have to sacrifice much,” Bryant said. “He’ll get more touches here than he did in Orlando. I know, it sounds weird to say, but it’s true. We do a great job playing through the post and playing through Pau … I mean, it’s going to be sensational.”

With one of the premier distributors in the game manning the controls in Nash, there should be plenty of shots for everyone. In fact, the Lakers, at least their top six rotation, will look like an All-Star team. Big 3 or 4? They’ve got a few more, what with Ron Artest and Antawn Jamison in the mix as well.

It’s a lineup that Bryant teammates on the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team never thought they’d see.

“We joked around about it a little bit during the summer,” Bryant said. “The consensus was there was no way we could get Dwight and still keep Pau, and they all love Pau for us. So they were like, ‘there is no way you’re going to let Pau go, and therefore you can’t Dwight.’ And I was like, ‘I think we can make that happen.’ We got Pau for virtually nothing [when we traded for him]. History does repeat itself.”

What Bryant is really looking forward to, though, is the future. Now that the season and summer of speculation is over and the Lakers have what could be a championship contender, training camp is already on his mind.

“It helps because you start getting into a frame of mind of what your team is going to look like,” he said.

He might have said it best earlier, when he said, “it’s going to be sensational.”

U.S. Whips Argentina 109-83, Move On To Gold Medal Game Against Spain





LONDON – The U.S. Men’s Senior National Team is one step away from accomplishing its summer mission.

A win in Sunday’s gold medal game against Spain will validate all of the hard work, all of the sacrifice and all of the sweat expended in a pursuit to restore a nation’s proud basketball tradition.

And there will be a day to celebrate it all, provided it happens in the proper way.

But this was not that day.

Friday’s Olympic semifinals were overshadowed by the one man whose name has been able to block out all other things whenever it’s been mentioned this year, and no, it’s not reigning NBA and Finals MVP LeBron James.

Dwight Howard is now officially a member of the Los Angeles Lakers after Friday’s four-team blockbuster was cleared by the league, the fourth and perhaps final piece in a championship puzzle alongside Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol.

Only Bryant and Gasol were in North Greenwich Arena for the semifinals, Gasol and Spain  defeating Russia in the first game 67-59 and Bryant at the U.S. demolishing Argentina 109-83. All of the questions, it seemed,were about were about Howard and the impact he’ll have not only on the Lakers, but on the entire landscape of the league nowt hat he’s moving into the locker room at Staples Center and Andrew Bynum is moving into the locker room at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

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Gasol’s Summer Keeps Getting Better

LONDON – If the good times keep on rolling like this, Pau Gasol isn’t going to want to see this summer end.

On the same day Gasol led Spain from 13 points down to a win over Russia in the first of two semifinals here at the Olympics, he found out that the Lakers put the finishing touches on a blockbuster deal that will pair he and All-Star center Dwight Howard in a revamped frontcourt that will be the envy of the NBA. Add all that to the Steve Nash sign-and-trade deal from last month and the realization that Gasol’s name will no longer come up in trade rumors (it ended up being Andrew Bynum) and things couldn’t get much better.

Well, there is always that game Sunday and a potential matchup against his good friend and teammate Kobe Bryant and the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team, and those other two high-profile teammates back in the States watching all of the action unfold.

It’s a decent rebound summer for a guy whose name had come up in so many trade rumors over the past two years that it made it hard not to internalize all of the chatter. Instead of heading elsewhere, Gasol will be a central figure on a Lakers team that vaults into the mix with Miami and Oklahoma City as favorites to win the 2012-13 NBA title.

Most importantly, Gasol will stay put in Los Angeles for at least the foreseeable future.

“That’s big news, big news.” Gasol said after Spain’s 67-59 win over Russia. “That’s huge. I’ve been involved in so many talks and so many rumors, we all know that. After a while I’ve been able to block it out. So I feel relieved. And I’m anxious and excited with our team, fully committed and fully focused on working extremely hard and just our team as much as I can.”

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