LeBron officially commits to play for Team USA
PHOENIX -- LeBron James has committed to playing for the U.S. team at this year's world championships and the 2008 Olympics.
"It's officially official in his case and I know he's excited about it," said Jerry Colangelo, managing director of USA Basketball. "He's obviously one of the core guys you want because of his talent, his age, his maturity at a very young age."
Colangelo met with James before the Cleveland Cavaliers played the Phoenix Suns, but thought the 21-year-old Cavs' star already had committed in a meeting in Chicago on Dec. 22. However, James was quoted as saying he still had to talk to Colangelo before making any commitment.
"So I visited with him about a half-hour ago to confirm that everything's OK and absolutely it is," Colangelo said. "He said, 'Well, what should I tell the media?' and I said, 'Tell them you're in, because that's what I'm going to tell them.'"
James said after the game that his talk with Colangelo eased any qualms he had about being involved.
"I just wanted a more clear vision of what I was getting myself into this time around," he said. "I kind of had a vision but really didn't the last time, and I suffered because of it. But he came to me, gave me a great explanation. We sat down and we talked and came up with some great things and I feel comfortable about it."
He was part of the U.S. team that struggled to win a bronze medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004 but saw limited playing time for coach Larry Brown's team. He played in eight games, averaging 5.4 points and 11.4 minutes.
"He had a bad experience, you know, in Athens," Colangelo said. "He wasn't happy about how things turned out there, the outcome and his own personal experience there. He sees this as an opportunity and he buys into representing your country and winning a gold medal, and doing it the appropriate way. He wants to be a part of that."
Colangelo was named the sole head of the U.S. basketball federation last year and given the responsibility for restoring the national team to the greatness it once enjoyed. He will select 20 players and has picked Duke's Mike Krzyzewski as coach.
"It looks pretty good," James said. "He's getting a good group of guys together that want to win, that want revenge for what happened two summers ago."
A training camp will be held in Las Vegas, to begin around July 18, to choose the 14 or so players who will participate in the world championships later this year in Japan.
Next year, the group will gather for a week and a half of training and maybe an exhibition game, then will reconvene again in 2008 to prepare for the Olympics.
Colangelo plans to announce the participants four at a time in a series of news conferences after the NBA All-Star break in mid-February. Those players undecided about a commitment, including Shaquille O'Neal, have until the All-Star break to make up their minds, Colangelo said.
He said two players, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, have informed him through their agents that they won't be a part of the U.S. team. However, Colangelo said he still planned to ask Garnett to meet with him when the Minnesota Timberwolves come to Phoenix on Feb. 6.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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