The United States will be defending its gold medals in both men’s and women’s basketball at the upcoming London Olympics. Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski led the American men to gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey, and he says the 2012 Olympic squad is a nice blend of those teams. “We have five guys from our Olympic basketball team in Beijing and we have five guys from our world championship team in Turkey,” says Krzyzewski. “I’m excited about our opportunity to achieve success. The team has great versatility and athleticism.”
The great versatility and athleticism of LeBron James will once again be on display in London. The Miami Heat star, a member of the gold medal-winning 2008 Olympic team, recently capped an outstanding NBA season with his first NBA championship and third league Most Valuable Player award. “We’re happy to be back together,” says James, “and we’ll work each and every day towards our goal, and that’s to bring home a gold medal.”
Like James, Kobe Bryant is also hoping to bring home a second Olympic gold medal. “I’m very excited,” says Bryant. “This will be a challenge for us. I feel like the rest of the world kind of feels like the gap is continuing to shorten and they feel like they can beat us … we know what’s at stake, and come Olympic time, we’re going to be ready to go and we’re going to bring back the gold medal to the USA.”
At 33, Bryant is the oldest player on the USA’s Olympic men’s basketball team. The youngest is 22-year-old James Harden of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award, given to the league’s top reserve player, in 2012.
The 12-team Olympic men’s basketball tournament tips off July 29th in London. For first round play, the USA is grouped with Argentina, France, Lithuania, Nigeria and Tunisia. Argentina won the Olympic gold medal in 2004, and a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Games; France is a two-time Olympic silver medalist; Lithuania is a three-time Olympic bronze medalist; and Nigeria and Tunisia are both making their Olympic debuts in men’s basketball.
The quarterfinals are scheduled for August 8th, the semifinals August 10th and the gold medal game on August 12th, the final day of Olympic competition.