Jul 08 USA Basketball: Ready to Work, Privileged to Play

By Maura Cheeks | July 08, 2012, 9 p.m. (ET)

2012 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team

A crowd gathered, children paced anxiously and a general sense of excitement filled the air as the 2012 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team took the court at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While Sunday was technically the third day of training camp, Saturday night was the official announcement of the 12-man Olympic roster, solidifying the players who are nominated to represent the United States in London. 

The official announcement seemed to ignite a new fervor among the athletes as they entered the gym. Amongst injuries and adjusted lineups, this is who will journey to London to defend the team’s gold medal from Beijing: five members of the 2008 Olympic team (Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Deron Williams), five members of the gold medal-winning 2010 World Championship team (Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook) and two newcomers to Team USA (Blake Griffin, James Harden).

Based on player interactions on the court Sunday, it was plain to see that there would be a fine balance between work and play. The 12 athletes who will represent the country undoubtedly understand what’s at stake. With that, they also unabashedly recognize the amount of talent that makes up the 2012 team – and how much fun it will be to play with their peers. 

“There were times when I, Durant and LeBron were at the 3, 4, 5… which sounds weird,” Carmelo Anthony said before Sunday’s practice. “[But] in an international game you just get ready to go out there. None of us have a position. We go out there and play basketball and make it work.”

Tyson Chandler seconded Anthony, adding, “We all understand the level we want to get to as individuals and as a team.” 

Kobe Bryant, the only player on the team over the age of 30, and LeBron James, who is coming off of an NBA Championship high, lightened the mood by reiterating that as a result of the incredible mix of talent, most of all, the Olympic Games would be about having fun and learning to play with each other.

“The depth, the versatility, the young guns – those are our strengths,” Bryant said.  

Looking at the 2012 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team, only three days in to training camp, it might not be surprising if the phrase “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” comes to mind. The talent, the willingness for the veterans to instruct the newbies, and the overall camaraderie put the team in a unique position entering London.

The individual parts of the team are nothing short of incredible – a fact that has not gone unnoticed by other countries. One can only wonder what the finished product will look like once the team completes training camp and arrives at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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