LeBron James: His Olympic experience in 2004 was not a good one, and his behavior and attitude were bigger problems than the public realized. In the end, however, it will go down as a good learning experience for James, who has told Colangelo he's on board.
I'll post the rest of the article here:
eam USA will be stocked, that's for sure. Whether it blends into a cohesive unit that can restore American basketball dominance is a question that remains to be answered.
National team czar Jerry Colangelo told ESPN.com he has been "stunned' by the level of interest he has received in more than two dozen face-to-face interviews with players he wants to put on the national team roster.
Allen Iverson is passionate about another shot at the gold.
With another six or seven meetings still to take place, Colangelo said he has received 18 solid commitments. In addition, agents for seven other players have called Colangelo to say their clients are eager to sacrifice their next three summers to take part in what Colangelo describes as his "mission" -- the effort to build a national team capable of winning gold medals at the 2006 World Championship in Japan and the 2008 Beijing Olympics in China.
Colangelo plans to announce a core group of players, as few as four and as many as eight, sometime around the All-Star break. Formal invitations eventually will be extended to 20 to attend training camp in Las Vegas in mid-July. The World Championship will run from Aug. 19 to Sept. 3, with the U.S. team playing its opening-round games in the northern city of Sapporo, with the opponents to be determined by draw on Sunday.
The United States is coming off disappointing finishes in the last two major international tournaments, a bronze medal showing at the Athens Olympics and a sixth-place failure at the 2002 World Championship in Indianapolis.
In Colangelo's meetings thus far with 25 players, some have expressed surprise that they might actually have to go through what would amount to a tryout. Colangelo has told players he's not forcing anyone to do anything, but anyone who believes it would be beneath him to fight for a roster spot won't be welcome. Colangelo is also laying down a few laws, such as banning families and entourages during the opening round of the World Championship and pretournament trips to China and South Korea.
"I think the response I've had has been stunning, and I think it's a compliment to our NBA players' buying into the philosophy of playing for their country," Colangelo said. "Pride is a factor, because they're not happy with where USA Basketball is at the moment, and they want to change that."
Colangelo would not divulge which players have given him their word, although public comments and Insider insight have combined to produce a reading on where more than 50 of the top American players stand:
Ray Allen: The best pure shooter holding a U.S. passport is one of the last players Colangelo will meet with. Played for U.S. in 2000 and 2003, withdrew from 2004 team due to security concerns. Might have a hard time coexisting peacefully with Kobe Bryant.
Carmelo Anthony: Colangelo said everyone starts with a clean slate, and he did not hold Anthony's complaints about playing time in Athens against him. The three-year commitment is giving Anthony pause, but he was one of the first players Colangelo sought out.
Gilbert Arenas: On board and eager judging by his public comments, the NBA's fourth-leading scorer is a strong favorite to be on the team heading to Japan.
Shane Battier: Wants to play, and it can't hurt that he spent four years at Duke under new U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Mike Bibby: Strangely, there seems to be no interest in the player Larry Brown wanted to beg back onto the Athens team when it was stumbling through its pre-Olympic tour.
Chauncey Billups: Met with Colangelo on Tuesday in Oklahoma City, as did teammates Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince. Coach Flip Saunders has lobbied for Billups, saying his combination of strength and shooting would be perfect for the international game.
Bruce Bowen: On the bubble. The last two roster spots likely will be filled with role players, and the player who guards Manu Ginobili in practice every day is an intriguing candidate.
Carlos Boozer: Out all season with an injured hamstring, it's clear that this member of the Athens team won't be wearing red, white and blue this summer.
Chris Bosh: With the ability to play inside and outside on both offense and defense, Bosh is seen as a perfect fit for the U.S. team. Count on seeing him in Japan.
Elton Brand: Another player who withdrew from the Athens team due to security concerns, Brand might be regretting that decision. He has indicated he'd like to wear the USA jersey again.
Kobe Bryant: Knee surgery kept him off the 2003 U.S. Olympic qualifying team, and a sexual-assault trial forced him to withdraw from the 2004 team. He's in -- and gung ho -- for 2006 and 2008.
Vince Carter: The best player on the 2002 team, he has not yet met with Colangelo. His best dunk ever came while wearing a USA uniform when he jumped over 7-2 Frederic Weis of France during the Sydney Olympics.
Marcus Camby: Another on the short list of players who will meet with Colangelo soon. Was playing like the NBA's best center before getting hurt last month, and the Americans need a shot blocker and rebounder who can defend China's Yao Ming, Australia's Andrew Bogut, Argentina's Fabricio Oberto and Serbia's Nenad Krstic, among others.
Baron Davis: A member of the 2002 U.S. team that lost to Argentina, Yugoslavia and Spain, he'd like another chance. But with Billups and Jason Kidd seeming to be held in higher esteem, he appears to be somewhat a long shot.
Tim Duncan: Infuriated at the way international referees treated him during the Olympics, his parting words as he left Athens were "FIBA sucks." His agent has already informed Colangelo that Duncan will not be participating.
T.J. Ford: An intriguing candidate, but too young and too raw to be given serious consideration. Perhaps in 2010 when the World Championship is held in Turkey.
Steve Francis: Top USA Basketball officials have never been all that enamored with his game or his character, and he remains off their radar. His suspension this week won't get him any closer to Beijing.
Channing Frye: One of the players Colangelo wants to have on a scout team that would scrimmage the national team in Las Vegas.
Kevin Garnett: Not interested in doing it again after winning a gold medal in Sydney.
Ben Gordon: The U.S. federation is not interested yet, but the British federation is. Gordon and teammate Luol Deng are toying with the idea of playing for Great Britain, with Steve Nash potentially as their coach, when England gets an automatic berth as host of the 2012 Olympics.
Richard Hamilton: Rip still has bad memories of his time with the U.S. Olympic qualifying team in 1999 when he sprained his ankle and did not play. For that reason, he might be on the fence.
Kirk Hinrich: There are some folks at USA Basketball who love him, others who believe he's not ready confidence-wise. A long shot.
Dwight Howard: The youngster is said to be super eager for a chance to play, and Colangelo has made it clear he sees Howard as one of the long-term pieces of his project. Might have to play his way onto the Japan roster if he gets an invite to training camp in Vegas.
Allen Iverson: Some in the USA Basketball hierarchy were skeptical about him going into the 2004 Olympics, but he won many of them over with his genuine passion for representing his country. Wants to play again.
Antawn Jamison: His struggles this season for Washington wouldn't figure to be helping him, but he's said to be under consideration.
Richard Jefferson: Played poorly for the U.S. team in Athens but wants to redeem himself. The type of first-class citizen USA Basketball has typically tried to get, but the memory of his inability to hit an open 20-footer has stuck in the heads of many U.S. federation officials.
Joe Johnson: This would be an awkward selection if Colangelo made it, given the circumstances of Johnson's departure from Colangelo's Phoenix Suns. But if bygones are truly bygones, Joe J may have a shot.
Jason Kidd: Has said he's very intrigued by the possibility of wearing the red, white and blue again. Was an integral part of the 2000 team in Sydney, the only player on that roster who knew the details of the disputed U.S. loss to the Soviet Union at the 1972 Munich Games. If he's chosen, it would impact the type of players that would be selected to surround him.
Kyle Korver: One of the game's best shooters, but too deficient in other areas to draw consideration.
Rashard Lewis: Wants to be in the mix, but it's unclear whether Colangelo has a mutual interest.
Stephon Marbury: Set the U.S. Olympic scoring record of 31 points against Spain in the Athens semifinals, but isn't believed to be on the list of players being considered for 2006.
Shawn Marion: A member of the 2004 and 2006 teams, he's a Colangelo favorite and likely will be playing for the U.S. in Japan.
Adam Morrison: Scout team candidate.
Tracy McGrady: Hasn't yet met with Colangelo but has said publicly that he does not believe his chronically injured back could take the wear and tear of a three-year commitment. Enjoyed his experience with the 2003 U.S. team that qualified for the Olympics at a tournament in Puerto Rico, but backed out without much of an excuse in 2004.
Brad Miller: Was a member of the 1998 U.S. team that competed in the World Championship in Greece during the NBA lockout, and has a style of play well suited to the international game. His agent has called Colangelo to state Miller's interest.
Greg Oden: Scout team candidate.
Lamar Odom: Is expected to meet with Colangelo later this month, and has said he'd like to represent the U.S. again. Was one of the more consistent performers for the 2004 Athens team.
Emeka Okafor: The only member of the 2004 team who failed to score a point in Athens, even when the team kept running plays for him in the fourth quarter of a blowout over Angola. Apparently not being considered for 2006.
Jermaine O'Neal: For reasons that remain unclear, O'Neal and Colangelo failed to keep a scheduled meeting. O'Neal has said publicly that a three-year commitment would be too taxing physically, but he still plans to talk things over with Colangelo.
Shaquille O'Neal: Hasn't played for the U.S. since 1996, but now says he's seriously thinking about doing it again. His presence alone would be a huge statement, but he'd have to be teammates with Kobe again.
Chris Paul: Scout team candidate.
Paul Pierce: Has repeatedly stated publicly that he wants a chance to redeem himself after being part of the 2002 debacle, and Colangelo has assured Pierce he'll get consideration. Expect the two to meet soon.
J.J. Redick: Scout team candidate.
Michael Redd: Many felt he should have been added to the 2004 Athens team, which needed shooters but added Okafor for the 12th roster spot. If Ray Allen declines to play, it's almost imperative that Redd be on the U.S. team. The Americans likely will see a steady diet of zone defenses, as they did in Athens. "We kept our zone packed inside the foul line," Lithuania's Sarunas Jasikevicius recalled.
Jason Richardson: Apparently not being considered.
Amare Stoudemire: Wants to play again after being buried on Larry Brown's bench in 2004, but it's hard to see his being included on the 2006 team so soon after having knee surgery. Look for him in Beijing, though.
Wally Szczerbiak: Colangelo plans to speak to him to gauge his interest.
Dwyane Wade: A person who has spoken to Wade described him as "98 percent" certain he'll rejoin the national team. He was the backup point guard behind Marbury in Athens.
Ben Wallace: His style of play is not suited to the international game, which was plain to anyone who watched him play on the 2002 team. He has improved his shooting since then, but it's still highly unlikely he'll play for the U.S. again.
Rasheed Wallace: Apparently not being considered.