Monday, July 22, 2024

LeBron James arrives at Team USA basketball camp in Las Vegas ahead of Paris Olympics

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LeBron James has joined forces with several other NBA stars in Las Vegas for Team USA‘s basketball camp more than a decade since his last appearance at the Summer Olympics

The 39-year-old Lakers forward was all smiles when he arrived in a conference room at a hotel in Sin City, where the likes of Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Bam Adebayo and Anthony Edwards greeted him along with coaches Ty Lue and Steve Kerr.

Anthony Davis – James’ club teammate – also dapped up the four-time NBA champion despite James joking to others that he wants to have a good summer but can’t now after seeing the Lakers center.

James’ arrival comes two days after most players technically arrived for camp. Curry was the first to check in, perhaps underscoring how anxious he is for what will be his first Olympics. 

The 12 players have all known each other for years, but the task of becoming a team starts in earnest Saturday.

The four-time NBA champion was greeted by Steph Curry

LeBron James, 39, finally showed up to Team USA basketball’s camp in Las Vegas on Saturday

Anthony Davis reunited with his teammate as they get ready for their first Olympics together

Anthony Davis reunited with his teammate as they get ready for their first Olympics together

‘I feel like it starts when it gets there, because that’s when you really see each other eye-to-eye,’ said Bam Adebayo, who is seeking his second gold medal after winning one at the Tokyo Games three years ago. 

‘You have those conversations, you have those many conversations within what we’re going through, what we’re trying to do. And that’s when it’s time to really be honest about what we want to do.’

That part is easy: Win gold. The how-to-do-it part, that’s the key.

Last year brought another humbling World Cup experience for the US; after finishing seventh in 2019, the Americans were fourth at Manila. 

But the argument – or justification, for lack of a better word – for those stumbles was that the US wasn’t sending the best possible roster to those tournaments. 

Getting the big names like Durant, Curry and James for the Olympics, that’s one thing. But, getting them for the World Cup and asking them to represent their country in back-to-back summers, that’s something else. 

Edwards and Tyrese Haliburton and were on that World Cup team last summer and were picked for this Olympic team as well. 

 

James has played in every summer Olympics for the US since Athens 2004 except for Rio 2016

James has played in every summer Olympics for the US since Athens 2004 except for Rio 2016

Sixers star Joel Embiid holding the USA Olympics jersey despite being linked to play for France

Sixers star Joel Embiid holding the USA Olympics jersey despite being linked to play for France

‘Obviously, last year we didn’t do what we wanted to do,’ Haliburton said. ‘And that was frustrating because any time you get to represent USA Basketball, the expectation is to win. And we weren’t able to do that.’

This team was put together with a very different ending in mind. James is back on the Olympic team for the first time since 2012 and seeking a third gold, Durant is going for what would be a men’s Olympic record fourth basketball gold, and five other players – Adebayo, Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday, Jayson Tatum and Anthony Davis – each have one. 

The first-time Olympians are Haliburton, Edwards, Curry, Kawhi Leonard and Joel Embiid, someone who the US convinced to play despite a strong push by France for the Philadelphia star to represent the host nation in Paris.

As far as choosing a starting lineup, good luck.

‘It’s a good problem to have,’ Kerr said. ‘I’m guessing that all 12 players on this roster will be in the Hall of Fame someday. So, how do you pick five out of 12? The idea is, you find combinations that click, and you find two-way lineups that can be effective at both ends. 

The US will look to defend their gold medal in Paris despite crashing out early at the World Cup

The US will look to defend their gold medal in Paris despite crashing out early at the World Cup

‘Our big job in Las Vegas is to find five-man combinations that fit and to just ask all 12 guys to fully commit to the goal of winning a gold medal no matter what it looks like, no matter who’s playing.’

The Americans play their first exhibition against Canada in Las Vegas, then have games at Abu Dhabi (against Australia and Serbia) and London (against South Sudan and Germany) before the Paris Games start. 

The US opens Olympic play July 28 against Serbia and will also have group games against South Sudan and the winner of Sunday’s qualifier in Puerto Rico – either Mexico, Lithuania, Italy or Puerto Rico.

‘We’ve got 39 days or so to get locked in to go get this gold medal, 12 amazing, talented guys ready to come together for one goal,’ Curry said when he arrived to check in for camp. ‘I’m hyped for it all.’

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