Team USA carousel continues
Shaquille O'Neal has officially informed USA Basketball that he will not be participating in this summer's Olympics, NBA vice president Stu Jackson told ESPN.com.
Asked if O'Neal has delivered formal notification of his intentions, Jackson nodded in the affirmative Saturday night after watching O'Neal's Lakers drop Game 5 of the Western Conference finals to Minnesota.
USAB's selection committee extended formal invitations to O'Neal and the Wolves' Kevin Garnett in March, but the committee's initial optimism faded quickly amid a string of pullouts by other stars. As reported by ESPN.com, USAB has been operating under the assumption since late April that Garnett wouldn't accept.
Jackson, the league's liason to the committee, confirmed Saturday that coach Larry Brown will have neither player on his roster for Athens. Jackson also said that more additions to the roster are forthcoming.
Brown announced Wednesday that Orlando's Tracy McGrady also has withdrawn. The list of players to either refuse an invitation or withdraw includes Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd, Karl Malone, Ray Allen, Vince Carter, Elton Brand and Kenyon Martin in addition to O'Neal, Garnett and McGrady.
Yet even without O'Neal and Garnett, Brown might still have two of his first-choice big men in Athens. San Antonio's Tim Duncan has reaffirmed his commitment to play for Team USA, in search of the gold medal he missed in Sydney in 2000. And Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal told ESPN.com last week that, even though he was among the first players to voice concerns about the state of security in Greece, he still considers himself part of the Olympic team.
"Until something drastic happens," Jermaine O'Neal said, "I'm going to play in Athens."
Of the original nine players selected by USA Basketball, only three have guaranteed their participation: Duncan, Philadelphia's Allen Iverson and Sacramento's Mike Bibby. Indiana's O'Neal said he won't decide until after the playoffs whether to join them and the first wave of replacements: Cleveland's LeBron James, New York's Stephon Marbury, New Jersey's Richard Jefferson and the Phoenix duo of Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire.
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