Fellow Net Kidd unsure if he'll play
Jefferson, a member of the U.S. team that qualified for the Olympics at a tournament in Puerto Rico last summer, said Sunday he has been given every indication that he has been chosen for the team.
Jefferson got the news from Nets president Rod Thorn, a member of the USA Basketball selection committee.
"They had a meeting a couple days ago, and Rod told me, 'Richard, I'm pretty sure you're going to be on the team,'" Jefferson said.
USA Basketball spokesman Craig Miller said no roster announcements have been scheduled.
Kidd, one of nine players already guaranteed spots on the U.S. roster, said he is undecided about playing. Hampered by a bone bruise in his left knee, Kidd had missed 10 of 12 games before starting Sunday against Philadelphia.
"If I can't play, I can't go," said Kidd, whose withdrawal would leave Mike Bibby as the only true point guard on the roster.
The USA Basketball selection committee already has extended invitations to Shaquille O'Neal and Kevin Garnett. The American roster includes Kidd, Bibby, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Tim Duncan, Jermaine O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone and Ray Allen. Larry Brown is the coach.
Several players, including Kidd, Malone, Allen and Jermaine O'Neal, have expressed serious concerns about security at the Olympics, which begin in mid-August.
The American team will open training camp in late July before traveling to Germany, Serbia and Turkey for exhibitions. They will be housed aboard a cruise ship during the Aug. 13-29 Olympics.
"Terrorism hit here in New York. I was here on 9-11," said Jefferson, who witnessed the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center from the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. "You're really not safe anywhere, you just have to believe in the security and believe they're going to have the best possible situation for us."
Another member of the Nets, All-Star Kenyon Martin, also played for the U.S. team that qualified last summer -- though Martin (a last-minute addition to the team after Malone withdrew following the death of his mother) was not guaranteed a spot on the Athens roster. He left the room Sunday when reporters began questioning Jefferson about the Olympics.
Other players on the U.S. roster in Puerto Rico who were not guaranteed Olympic roster spots include Elton Brand and Carter.
Jefferson fills a hole for the U.S. team by providing a backup to McGrady at small forward. Jefferson, his role increased because of Kidd's and Martin's injuries, has averaged 23 points over the Nets' last 10 games.
"You can really tell the past two months with the way I've been playing how valuable that experience was," Jefferson said of playing for the U.S. team last summer. "Being around those players, that kind of greatness, it helped my game a whole lot hanging around them, seeing their work ethic and seeing the things the way they see them."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
MORE OLYMPICS HEADLINES
- Durant, USA pull away from Spain to win gold
- Clippers' Paul has successful surgery on thumb
- Schmitt back to school after Olympic stardom
- Olympian Raisman, Poland Spring sign deal