(Editor’s note: Lady M. Alana put the time and effort into this awesome post, but then her computer rebelled, so I’m posting it for her.)
They’re calling it the “Redeem Team”. They, of course, meaning the WWL*, but even so it’s a pretty good name. After all, USA Basketball hasn’t won gold in anything since a Democrat was in office; this team desperately wants to bring that glory back to the United States. And with twelve of the NBA’s best headed to Beijing, coached by the best of the NCAA and NBA, and sweeping through every team they meet on the way, that possibility is looking more and more in reach.
And what makes a team? Hot athletes! Let’s start with the shortest and work our way up, shall we?
6’0″, 180 – Point Guard
We love this guy. Young and incredibly skilled, he made people actually care about basketball in New Orleans; now, he brings his meticulous play and passion to Olympic basketball. He was Rookie of the Year in 2006. In the 2006 world championship, he set a US championship record with 44 assists (and only nine turn-overs) in nine games. Last year, in only his third season in the NBA, he made the All-Star Team, All-NBA first team, All-Defensive second team, and placed second to summer team-mate Kobe Bryant in the MVP voting. He was also on our banner last month. He embodies the future of the point guard position, and, besides, he’s quite cuddly. In fact, have another picture, just because.
FUN FACT: Throughout the season, CP3 put up players from different teams in his house when their teams came to play, including many of his Olympic team-mates like LeBron and Chris Bosh (and their respective girl friends). He also played host to all of the NBA, basically, during All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. Cuddly, I’m telling you.
6’3″, 210, PG
The rivalry between Deron and Chris Paul is one of the most interesting in the NBA, and lead many to wonder whether two such competitive players of the same position could play on the same team. Wonder no more: not only do they spur each other to greater heights, watching them play on the same court is, in fact, a thing of beauty. Deron is a great player, maybe the second-best point-guard in the NBA right now, and working with Chris Paul and J-Kidd has done his game boundless good already.
FUN FACT: Chitown Chick will be intrigued to know that Deron wrestled as a kid, earning two state wrestling championships in elementary and middle school. But, luckily for USA basketball, he got a bit too tall for wrestling. He maintained the beefiness, though!
(Note: while I think he’s cute, I cannot for the life of me find a good picture of him. Apologies.
6’4″, 212, PG
“Long” and “illustrious” are words often used to describe Jason Kidd’s career.* Unimaginative as they are, they’re also true. In twelve seasons, he’s been an All-Star nine times, lead the league in assists-per-game five times, and is on all kinds of all-time lists. So, like, well-documented awesome from J-Kidd. His role on Team USA is half tutor to Deron and Chris Paul, and half his own awesome. Between both roles, he’s incredibly important to the team’s success.
FUN FACT: *that’s what she said.
6’4″, 216, SG
The mighty fall the farthest and the hardest. Luckily, if they’re as cute as D-Wade, they climb back up pretty easily. He’s so popular that he’s been an All-Star all four of his years in the league – even when he only played part of the season, on a team with the worst record in the league. He appears to have come back, and come back hard, with Team USA. He even dunks like he used to! If his skills are indeed approaching their previous level, he is an extremely valuable asset to the team’s success. (Not to mention Miami’s success with him alongside Shawn Marion and Michael Beasley, but that’s for a different story entirely.)
FUN FACT: He’s more likable without Shaq. This is a common phenomenon.
6’6″, 205, SG
Speaking of likable, AM I RIGHT? The NBA’s most polarizing player is also one of its best. In fact, according to popular opinion and MVP voting, he is the best. However, on Team USA, Kobe’s taking a backseat to LeBron’s leadership. Your opinions on the man may differ, but this tack has proved very positive for the team’s success thus far. In a team with leaders like this one has, Kobe’s considerable skills at all things basketball are all that he needs.
FUN FACT: Kobe hate is so old meme.
6’6″, 215, SG
With a three point touch like that, I’ll forgive him for attending Ohio State. Along with that, he’s known as a real “character guy”, one of the “good guys” of the NBA. He holds all kinds of records for three-pointers made in competition, both in the NBA and in international play. Of all the players on the USA roster, he’s probably the least known, having had to earn his playing time behind Ray Allen before getting traded to Milwaukee. However, in international play dominated by great three-point shooters, his underrated skills are a valuable asset to the team.
FUN FACT: Michael’s father is a preacher. After re-signing with Milwaukee, he bought a church for his dad’s ministry. It’s like buying your mom a house, but with more seating!
6’9″, 216, SF
I love Tayshaun. Love love love. He played his way into the Pistons’ starting rotation, in the playoffs, his rookie year, and hasn’t looked back since. His wiry, rangy frame – oh, hell, who am I kidding; he’s built like a coat hanger – lends itself to underestimation, particularly of his offensive capabilities. Defensive specialist as he is, he nonetheless can score when he chooses to, though he usually doesn’t. The Pistons’ championship in 2004 is due in large part to his defense on Reggie Miller and then Kobe Bryant; his defensive skills and attitude are why he’s a part of Team USA.
FUN FACT: He’s actually almost muscular compared to what he used to be. I know, right?
6’8″, 230, SF
Melo was the first player GM Jerry Colangelo asked to join the newly-remodeled US National Team in 2005, and is one of the world’s best international players. His size allows him to play power forward in international play, but his style – that of a jump-shooter/small forward/three-point-shooter – makes him extremely tough to guard for big men. Though he’s not a power guy like LeBron, his strength nonetheless makes him equally tough to guard for smaller players. Appropriately, then, he’s the team’s leading scorer, and his skills have rendered him nearly unstoppable in previous tournaments.
FUN FACT(s): He was in the video for Common’s Be. He’s also one of the biggest philanthropists in the world: he was tenth in the world for charitable giving in 2006, despite being somewhere in the thousandths for total earning. He’s donated millions of dollars to various charities dedicated to improving the lives of children in Denver and Baltimore, as well as for disaster relief around the world, and a three million dollar donation to his alma mater, Syracuse.
6’8″, 260, SF
Everybody’s All-American, LeBron is often described as the heart of this team. His personality is nearly as big as his play – one of the most recognizable and advertised players in the world, he’s also one of its best. Like Melo, he’s tough to guard, though on his part it’s due to his boundless strength and considerable finesse. Only 23, he’s been in the league for five years, and dominated in all of them: ROY in 03-04, an All-Star every year since, single-handedly bringing his team to the NBA Finals in 06-07. Do we love him? We love him a lot. He is, after all, in our Olympic banner.
FUN FACT: LeBron was so good in high school that his mom got enough bank credit to buy an 80,000 dollar Hummer for his 18th birthday. He was so good – participating in more than two high school all star games – that he lost his NCAA eligibility. Wait, what? That’s why he never went? That’s frikkin’ ridiculous.
6’10”, 230, PF
One of the few criticisms or concerns about this team are its lack of size. Chris Bosh is listed as one of two power forwards on the team, but, as you can see, he’s built more like Tayshaun than LeBron. However, his skill around the basket makes up for his relative lack of strength, and his wiry build allows him a dexterity that few power forwards possess. Forced to take charge of a young team, in the Toronto Raptors, as a rookie, he developed the maturity and leadership that mark his play, and make his on- and off-court contributions to Team USA extremely valuable.
FUN FACT: This video.
6’9″, 266, PF
Big Alaskan Dukie. Powerful and underrated in Utah, his rebounds and play around the basket are vital to USA basketball’s international success. He’s one of the game’s best post players, ambidextrous, skilled at finishing and a great post defender. But nobody really cares about him in the NBA, because, you know, he plays in Utah. Nevertheless, Team USA would be much easier to beat without him.
FUN FACT: He sued his tenant, Prince (as in “Purple Rain” Prince), for performing unauthorized alterations on the rental house. Man, how come nobody like Prince ever rents our rental house? I wouldn’t even object if he redecorated.
6’11”, 265, C
Dunk. Dunk, dunk-dunk, dunkdunkdunk. Dunk? Dunk dunkdunk dunkdunkdunk.
There’s a reason he’s got one of the highest field-goal percentages in the league. He’s like Shaq, but nicer, more humble, and shoots better free-throws. Well, slightly better. As the team’s only true center, he’s got a lot on his shoulders; luckily, they’re quite broad (and delicious). He’s quite possibly the best center in the world, and, as such, one of Team USA’s most important members.
FUN FACT(s): He promised himself, in eighth grade, that he would become the number one pick in the NBA draft. Five years later, he was. Also, he’s not actually Superman. Yes, I know. It surprised me too.
Final verdict? This team is extraordinarily talented, and has had no trouble at all with any of their competition so far. However, the Olympics are a different story, and they’re yet to meet any truly elite competition. My thoughts: cautiously optimistic.