Watch U.S.A. Basketball reclaim gold.

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Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony — This quartet of superstars can shine in all facets of the game. All are gifted scorers, but Bryant is also an ace man-to-man defender and James is a great assist man. Wade, coming off an injury-plagued down year with the Miami Heat and with something to prove, brings the whole package when he’s right. Anthony could be a defensive liability, but peer pressure should make him step up; and he plays more unselfishly with his fellow kingpins.

• Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, Deron Williams — The point guard position is especially strong, with Kidd’s veteran leadership (and otherworldly court vision) and two of the best young players in the game on board. These guys look to distribute the ball first, but each can score (especially Paul and Williams), and all are good at leading the fast break, which should be the U.S. team’s stock-in-trade during the Olympics. Bonus: Each is a committed defender.

• Dwight Howard, Chris Bosch, Carlos Boozer — Howard is the top rebounder in the game (and should get his share of thunderous dunks). Bosch can play the center position from various points on the floor. Boozer, while undersized, it a highly skilled low-post player. The U.S. lacks that pure center with a great low post game (a la Shaq), but this team will probably play more wide open anyway. There’s been some question about whether this troika has enough size to compete against the world. I’m not concerned.

• Tayshaun Prince, Michael Redd — Classic role players. The long-armed reed-thin Prince can defend any position other than center, and he has a competent offensive game. Redd is a sharpshooter, (although he can be streaky). U.S.A Basketball’s recent problems can be blamed in part on the inability to shoot the 3-point shot. Redd is a good buffer against packed-tight zone defenses.

Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski has the respect and confidence of these NBA stars. Overall, there seems like a strong commitment to regaining the gold and worldwide supremacy.

The United States will field far and away the best collection of players in the Olympics, but, as the say, basketball is a team game. My gut is that U.S.A Basketball is a real team. I can’t see them coming up short. We’ll find out, starting tonight.

Granted, the Tampa Bay Rays have sustained me through the summer thus far, but I’m amped about the U.S. Olympic basketball team kicking into gear.

U.S.A. Basketball stunk it up in the last Olympics. The chemistry looked shaky; they didn’t play as a team. Finished with the bronze. The ’08 edition looks and feels better; more care seems to have gone into finding players to fill roles rather than just amassing a gang of gunners.

The U.S. squad begins pre-Olympic games tonight vs. Canada (8 p.m., ESPN). It sure seems like the American players are motivated to re-establish hoops dominance on the international stage. Most of the players made long-term commitments to get to this point.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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