One more run: USA Basketball leans on veterans LeBron, Durant, Curry to win gold in Paris


LeBron James is home for the rest of the playoffs. As is his teammate Anthony Davis. So is Kevin Durant. Stephen Curry had his feet up since the play-in. Kawhi Leonard is one loss away from joining those future Hall of Famers.

These NBA Playoffs have been a changing of the guard — the brightest stars who carried the NBA brand for more than a decade are fading out, replaced by rising stars such as Anthony Edwards in Minnesota and Tyrese Haliburton in I
ndiana, among others.

Don't worry, that old guard will get its day in the sun again:

In the Paris Olympics.

USA Basketball leaned heavily into that old guard of players making one final push for a gold medal when constructing their roster: Curry, LeBron, Durant, Leonard, and Davis among them.

"I think the timing is just right. I'm later in my career. This is probably the last opportunity I have to play," Curry said of his decision to join Team USA this summer and play in his first Olympics. "And that made it a much easier decision to say, 'This makes sense.' And then I was talking to some other guys who were interested in playing, so you knew this could be a great team.”

"In a couple of months, I go to training camp. I got to rest my body for USA B," LeBron said at his exit interview just after the Nuggets eliminated his Lakers.


This will be the oldest United States Olympic men's basketball roster ever, averaging 30 years and nine months (when the games start in July). No other USA team had been over an average age of 30.

USA Basketball executive Grant Hill said he sought more than veteran experience. He wanted defensive-minded players who were mature and could handle the more physical FIBA/international style of basketball.

"The FIBA game is a different game than then the NBA game," Hill said at a press conference introducing the teams. "And so you want players whose games certainly translate on that stage...

"I think defense, I think experience [were priorities], a collective understanding of just how to win, whether that's on the FIBA stage or even on the NBA stage. And then, you know, it's a puzzle you want, obviously, talented individuals... who can blend and can fit, and it can play certain roles that you need. But I think defense was certainly a priority. And defensively, having guys that are capable of locking down, starting multiple sets within a possession. I think maturity, and emotional maturity, and then just blending personalities."

If international experience matters, no USA men's player has more than LeBron. He has two gold medals — 2008 and 2012 — but also knows the sting of not reaching that summit, earning a bronze medal in 2004. By playing this summer, James joins just two other basketball players — Spain's Rudy Fernandez and USA women's icon Diana Taurasi — whose Olympic careers span 20 years.

Then there is Kevin Durant, who has led Team USA in scoring at the past three Olympic Games and has scored more points in Olympic competitions than any other USA man. He is just 56 points shy of Lisa Leslie's all-time USA record and could pass her in Paris.

Team USA is bringing some of the young stars of tomorrow, too. The Timberwolves' Edwards, having a breakout playoff this year, will be on the roster in Paris and is going to get plenty of run. The Pacers' Haliburton, whose passing and up-tempo style worked well for the USA at the World Cup last summer, will return.

The roster also includes players in their prime, such as Devin Booker, Jayson Tatum, Joel Embiid, and Bam Adebayo. Jrue Holiday is the ultimate glue guy and fits perfectly on this roster as well (and was critical to the USA winning gold in Tokyo last Olympics).

The USA is stacked, but there is one key reason this differs from the legendary USA Dream Team from 1992.

"What can I say? That we need more firepower? That we need more talent?," Team USA head coach Steve Kerr jokingly told NBC Sports Bay Area. "We've obviously got the cream of the crop. These guys are the best players in the country. It's exciting.

"But this isn't 1992. It may feel like the Dream Team from a stardom and status standpoint. But it won't feel that way from the opponents' standpoint. The world has caught up quite a bit.”

Other countries have their NBA stars as well. Serbia won the World Cup last year and will add the best player on the planet, Nikola Jokic, to the roster. France will have a massive front line of Victor Wembanyama and Rudy Gobert, plus plenty of other NBA and top-flight European talent. Canada beat the USA in the World Cup and is loaded with NBA players, starting with MVP finalist Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and he plays alongside RJ Barrett, Dillon Brooks, Kelly Olynyk, Lu Dort, and Purdue star Zach Edey, among others.

Those lists goes on and on — basketball is a global game now.

Which is why Grant Hill felt he had to lean into a veteran Team USA roster to bring home the gold again.