More and more the USA Basketball committee that is selecting the 12 players for this summers Olympic basketball squad are hearing "Im out", especially since the recent bombings in Athens. All this makes Gothamist wonder, who's in? Players that have turned down bids to play for Team USA include Seattles Ray Allen (fiancé giving birth this summer), Jerseys Jason Kidd (nagging injuries), Torontos Vince Carter (getting married this summer), Minnesoatas Kevin Garnett (fatigue from prolonged playoff run), and a trio of Lakers which include Karl Malone (needs time to recover from injury filled season), Kobe Bryant (pesky pending rape trial) and Shaquile ONeal (doesnt really want to go). Although he has not declined his invite yet, sources say Indianas Jermaine ONeal is considering pulling out because of safety concerns in Athens.
So as of now, who is making this trip to Athens? O'Neal, San Antonios Tim Duncan (who recently reaffirmed his commitment), Phillys Allen Iverson, Orlandos Tracy McGrady, Sacramentos Mike Bibby and Jerseys Richard Jefferson. Wait! Not so fast. The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that McGrady might be having second thoughts about fulfilling his childhood dream of representing his country at the Olympics. Like ONeal, he cites concern about his safety as the biggest issue.
"Tracy is worried about security, no question," said a source. "He's going to have his family over there with him." McGrady and several other NBA stars were less than impressed with USA Basketball's handling of the Olympic qualification games in Puerto Rico last summer. However, McGrady might face pressure from adidas, his shoe sponsor, to play in the Summer Games and help move some product.
So what is the USA Basketball committee doing to fill out the roster? More and more they are looking to the games rising stars to fill the remaining spots. Celevelands LeBron James, New Yorks own Stephon Marbury and Phoenixs Shawn Marion were all issued invitations earlier in the week and recent reports have fellow Sun Amare Stoudamire being next on the
list to accept an invitation to summer in Greece. To his credit, Stoudamire told ESPN.com that the lure to represent his country outweighed any safety concerns he might have, "You're taking a chance in anything you do in life. I just want to play for my country." Other players mentioned as potential roster replacements include Lamar Odom of Miami , Minnesotas Sam Cassell, Ron Artest of Indiana and Denvers Carmelo Anthony.
No matter who is on the squad, they will certainly be thinking of the USA's disappointing
6th place finish in the 2002 World Championships. Current Pistons headman Larry Brown will coach Team USA. The team is scheduled to begin training camp on July 26 in Jacksonville, and then play exhibitions in Germany, Serbia and Montenegro and Turkey before the Olympics in Athens, which run through Aug. 29. "The four years that have transpired since Sydney, the teams have gotten better, the players have gotten better," Brown said. "And maybe we're not sending the very best, but we'll be well represented and I'm confident they'll do well."