IT’S a simple recipe for the USA basketball team to win gold, right? Turn up, dazzle opponents with that NBA finesse and walk off with the prize.
And why shouldn’t they? The team comprises title winners, MVPs and a plethora of game greats. The current Dream Team boasts stellar performers that could populate any of the previous incarnations which have graced the Olympic stage. For LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Co, taking centre stage in the coming weeks in Stratford is their talent-given right.
And we should be excited. In the gamut of athletic ability which is heading to our shores to the London games, few can boast a total command of their discipline quite like the US basketball team.
Take James, the US’s man of the moment — and Liverpool FC share owner, no less —who is at the very peak of his powers.
The forward has won NBA MVP honors in three of the last four seasons (2009, 2010, 2012) and is a six-time All-NBA first-team selection who won the lot with Miami Heat this year.
The biggest crowd draw in the event this summer started all eight games for the 2008 gold medal team and averaged 15,5 points, 5,3 rebounds and 3,8 assists a game.
Eye-watering statistics — and the rest of the cast are no slouches, either.
You’ll know Kobe Bryant — the venerable LA Lakers shooting guard and senior statesman of the US team will be the one who leads the team on to the court.
Bryant is an alpha dog — the oldest of the group at 33-years — a true leader whose five NBA championships stands him head and shoulders above his lofty mates.
And then there is Kevin Durant who is sure to start most games. The Oklahoma City Thunder forward was one of the picks four years ago in Beijing.
His average points tally was only bettered by James and Dwyane Wade in 2008 and, as recently as 2010, he was the Fiba World Championships MVP.
And Chris Paul, the elite point guard whose link-up play will be crucial to stitching much of the play together. The LA Clippers star is a four-time NBA All-Star and finished second in MVP voting in 2008.
It’s an all-star cast heading to Stratford this month — even after a series of injuries which denied them a number of NBA regulars who would have played a major role in the proceedings.
And it is that strength in-depth which stands this roster out from those who went before.
In the pursuit of the Olympic greatness, few individuals or teams arrive in London better equipped to succeed in their quest for gold.
London 2012 Team US
Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks); Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers); Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks); Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder); Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers); James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder); Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers); LeBron James (Miami Heat); Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves); Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers); Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets).