Bryant named to US Olympic Basketball team
Kobe Bryant earned his first NBA Most Valuable Player this season, and the Los Angeles Lakers' superstar will have an opportunity to bring home his first Olympic gold medal this summer.
Bryant was among the 12 NBA players selected on Monday to the USA Basketball team for the 2008 Games, August 8- 24 in Beijing, China, the dpa reported.
Making his first Olympic appearance, Bryant is joined by LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) Jason Kidd (Dallas Mavericks) Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) Tayshaun Prince (Detroit Pistons) Carlos Boozer and teammate Deron Williams (Utah Jazz).
Rounding out the squad includes, Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets), Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors), Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic) Michael Redd (Milwaukee Bucks) and Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets).
"Whatever I say will not fully describe just how difficult this selection process has been," said senior national team managing director Jerry Colangelo, who made the announcement.
"The players selected have incredible talent. More importantly, we think this team has excellent leadership, great versatility, balance and very good chemistry, which are critical parts in building a great team. I believe this team is a team all Americans can and will be proud of."
Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski will guide Team USA.
"I'm excited about the players who comprise this team, he said. "Our team has excellent athleticism and great versatility. We have players who are experienced in the international game thanks to the last two summers' training and competitions.
"I feel really good where we are. We have the foundation in but we have a lot work ahead."
The star-studded squad hopes to wipe away the bad taste of a disappointing third-place finish at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece, and recapture the success of their gold medal showing at Sydney in 2000.
The Americans have been considered the gold standard in the international competition, but have not been as dominant recently as reigning gold medalist Argentina has emerged as a force led by Manu Ginobili.
However, loaded with a superstar roster, the U.S. is confident it can return to the top.
"As we have learned, the international teams we will face in Beijing are also extremely talented and they play very well as a team, Krzyzewski explained.
"It's really the world's game, but we think we're the best at playing that game. This summer's Olympics are going to be an unbelievable competition."
Team USA will have a mini-camp this week in Las Vegas, Nevada, reconvene there July 20-25 to train and play an exhibition against Canada before heading overseas. They open Olympic play against China on Aug. 10.