In the 2008 Olympics, USA Basketball made a conscious decision to add a few role players to its roster. The thought was that past U.S. teams, particularly in 2004, were too loaded with alpha dogs and not balanced enough with guys satisfied being spot-up shooter or situational defenders. Tayshaun Prince was a beneficiary. He was selected for the final roster and, although he played very limited minutes, got the opportunity to win a gold medal.
Prince is still listed on the USA Basketball roster along with 34 other players, so there’s a chance that he could make the team once again. Veteran NBA writer Chris Sheridan, however, believes the roster is already virtually set because of the emergence of several new stars who will almost assuredly be included if they want to play. Sheridan points to the need for more big men as a result of Spain’s loaded frontcourt (Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka) as a motivating factor for changing up the roster some:
Dwight Howard is the first name on that list, because like most of the 2008 Redeem Team, he has earned the right to defend the gold medal he won in Beijing.
Ditto Chris Bosh.
The same goes for Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant, and maybe to a slightly lesser degree to Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
You can also set aside a spot for Blake Griffin, who has been described to SheridanHoops.com by people in the know as a shoo-in for the London 2012 roster.
And another will go to Kevin Durant, the MVP of the 2010 World Championship team. The spot is his for the taking if he wants it.
That right there gives you 10 guys, leaving only two spots up for grabs from the current 35-man roster listed on USA Basketball’s Website from which Griffin is conspicuously absent.
It was definitely cool seeing Prince get to represent the Pistons in the Olympics, but I think the time of seeing role players rub elbows with superstars on the U.S. team is probably over, unless big stars begin bowing out again. The need seems to be greatly reduced, frankly, because a lot of today’s young stars play pretty unselfishly. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Deron Williams and even Kobe Bryant (in international play anyway) have shown that they don’t mind being facilitators and deferring to others. And Durant and Griffin certainly don’t strike me as the types of stars who will let ego get in the way of team goals, which was supposedly part of the problem in 2004.
I will be interested to see how many of the star players who won in 2008 stay committed to playing in 2012 though. In the past, several players have chosen not to go back and play again in the Olympics after winning a gold once. If that repeats itself, it could open the door just a crack for Prince since he is still part of the USA Basketball program.
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