• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Last week in Las Vegas USA Basketball held its mini-camp. With 34 players in attendance and only 12 roster spots available for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil it was amazing to see the super stars of the game practice together building relationships and camaraderie knowing that they would soon be competing for roster spots.


2014-2015 MVP Stephen Curry and teammates Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes were seen representing their team and USA Basketball. Curry and Thompson both were gold medal winners in the last World Cup in 2014. It was refreshing to see the combinations of NBA teammates, Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and Bradley Beal, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard and the dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook competing and practicing together on the floor. This camp was mandatory for players wishing to continue to be a part of USA Basketball. There were players in attendance coming off of surgeries to be a part of the process showing their commitment to team. Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love all were present but the Cavaliers stars did not participate due to their injuries. ¬†Michael Carter -Williams, Jimmy Butler, Amir Johnson, Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris were some of the fresh faces at the mini-camp. Some other notable players in attendance were DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard and young center Andre Drummond who participated in last years FIBA tournament. Not present was Derrick Rose who chose not to attend the mandatory camp and Paul George who had previous engagements. Kobe Bryant did not attend but was said to have a roster spot if he did choose to participate in 2016 however the always competitive Bryant reportedly said that he didn’t want a roster spot, he wanted to earn it.


USA Basketball has come along way since its early beginnings. The first dream team back in 1992 began with phone calls to all-stars. Now the USA Basketball coaches are not just picking the best players they are picking guys that can play together and win together playing as a collective unit. The nightmare of the 2004 Olympic games in Athens is still fresh in the minds of a few players and it is a point of emphasis that Jerry Colangelo now uses when the teams are selected. Last summer in training camp before the FIBA World Cup tournament began, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin all withdrew from the team due to various reasons, Paul George sustained a gruesome injury and Kevin Durant promptly withdrew as well. Showing patience and commitment to the system the players that replaced those stars were chosen not because they were just great players but because they fit the system. Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins and Kenneth Faired stepped in and performed well, helping the team to its 5th gold medal in these games.


USA Basketball is 43-1 not counting exhibition games since Jerry Colangelo and  Coach Mike Krzyzewski took over in 2005 in competition after the debacle in 2004. Colangelo preaches continuity, commitment and teamwork. The culture he has brought to USA Basketball can not only be seen throughout the senior team but in the high school and college level as well with USA Basketball having programs throughout the lower ranks creating a pipeline of players and coaches in the system.


The mini-camp culminated with an exhibition game. An entertaining game throughout however watching the younger players compete you got the feeling that some were showcasing their talents in hopes of representing the United States in Rio in 2016 and in the near future.


Twitter: Sherman@shermangmz1

Email: shermangmz1@gmail.com

Photo Credit: David Becker/Associated Press


By Sherman Gomez

"Basketball is my favorite sport, I like the way they dribble up and down the court." "I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller." "Last week messed around and got a triple double." I write about basketball sometimes and then I try to go play....

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