Just one day after Dwyane Wade announced that knee surgery and a subsequent four-to-six-week recovery period would prevent him from representing the United States as part of the U.S. men's national basketball team in next month's 2012 Summer Olympics in London, his teammate on the NBA's Miami Heat, Chris Bosh, also removed his name from consideration for the national team, citing injury.
Bosh suffered a severe abdominal strain in the opening game of the Heat's second-round Eastern Conference playoff series with the Indiana Pacers back in May. The injury sidelined him for nine games and 23 days, but he returned late in Miami's Eastern Conference finals matchup with the Boston Celtics, performing well and helping propel the Heat into the NBA finals, which they won in five games. The 6-foot-11 Bosh averaged 14.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in the finals, primarily playing center (a mostly unfamiliar position for the career power forward) and turning in perhaps the best defensive basketball of his nine-year NBA career.
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Unfortunately for USA Basketball, it seems Bosh's return from injury and his determined play in pursuit of a championship set his recovery from the strain back quite a bit, and too much to be ready for international competition this summer. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald provided the statement that Bosh sent out through his agent, Henry Thomas:
I am extremely disappointed to say that due to injury, I cannot represent my country in the 2012 Olympics in London [...] The abdominal injury that I suffered in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals is not fully healed.
After The Finals, I met with my doctors to determine the best course of action, with the full intent to play in the Olympics. From those meetings, I was advised that rest and additional rehab of my abdominal injury will be necessary in order to avoid the development of a chronic injury.
Having enjoyed the honor of representing my country in the 2008 Olympics, when we won the gold medal, I wanted to be part of that experience again. However, I must follow my doctors' advice and properly take care of this injury.
My thoughts will be with our guys in London in August and I am confident that Coach K and the USAB staff will bring home the gold again to the USA.
Thomas told Tim Reynolds at The Associated Press that the "exposure [Bosh] would get being part of that team is something he would like.
"But at the end of the day, his health going forward is more important than all of those things," the agent said.
Bosh's withdrawal means only 16 healthy names remain on the preliminary U.S. men's national team roster, which will be whittled down to 12 before the team heads to London.
While Bosh wasn't considered a definite lock to make this year's version of Team USA, he performed well as a reserve power forward and center in Beijing in 2008. Bosh averaged 9.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in just 17.3 minutes per game, while also using his length and quickness to produce better defensive effort than he'd become known for with the Toronto Raptors.
After previous injuries removed Beijing starter Dwight Howard and versatile four-five type LaMarcus Aldridge from the London mix, Bosh figured to see more minutes at the five this time around. Instead, his absence means that only five of the remaining 16 players on the U.S. roster profile as prospective centers — Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, Lamar Odom and newly minted No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis.
And of those five, only two are considered locks for the final 12 — Chandler, the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the year who is expected to start in Howard's stead, and Love, who starred for the 2010 team that won gold at the FIBA World Championships in Turkey. Griffin, Odom and Davis will all participate in a July 5 workout with Colangelo and company aimed at determining whether they're ready to contribute to the quest for gold.
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Griffin's power and athleticism would certainly be assets, but he's working his way back from a sprained left knee that dogged him throughout the Los Angeles Clippers' second-round playoff loss to the San Antonio Spurs last month. Odom was a key member of that 2010 FIBA squad, leading the U.S. in rebounding and playing mostly at center, but he was reportedly removed from consideration for a spot in London after his dreadful 2011-12 season with Dallas; however, injuries and an interest in coming back have him back in the fold. As for Davis, Colangelo, Krzyzewski and crew will have to figure out whether the 6-foot-11 forward with the 7-foot-6 wingspan would be a worthy defensive weapon off the bench or if, at just 19 years of age, Davis isn't yet ready for international competition for the senior national team.
Even if USA Basketball brass decides that none of the three on-the-bubble bigs are ready to contribute in London, the guard-heavy lineup and relative lack of legitimate bigs likely wouldn't harm the U.S. too much against most teams in the tournament. If Chandler and Love can sop up most of the minutes in the middle, Krzyzewski has the attractive option of slotting one of his three big, versatile wings — LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant — in at the power-forward spot, creating monstrous offensive mismatches against opposing fours without exposing the team too much defensively. (I mean, Chandler got plenty of experience covering for Anthony's defensive miscues with the New York Knicks this year.)
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Where the U.S. would run into a problem with that strategy, though, is in a potential rematch with Spain, the silver medalists in Beijing in 2008. The Spanish national team will start the dynamic frontcout duo of Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol, two legitimate 7-footers who can play off one another and have skill to burn, and will spell them with Oklahoma City Thunder shot-blocker Serge Ibaka, who became a Spanish citizen last summer and gives Spain perhaps the deepest front line in the world. If the U.S. sees Spain, trying to get away with 'Melo and KD guarding the Gasols or Ibaka seems like a recipe for disaster. Bigger bodies more accustomed to banging inside will be needed, which is why Colangelo, Coach K and Team USA's assistants are hoping that one or all of the three bigs slated to workout July 5 come healthy and ready.
With the NBA finals and NBA draft now in the rear-view, the time for making decisions is drawing near. After pushing the cutdown date back from June 18 to give the injury situation time to play out, USA Basketball is expected to announce its 12-man squad on (or around) July 7.
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