USA Basketball names 30 finalists for U.S. Olympic men’s team

LeBron James, Kevin Durant
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USA Basketball announced 30 finalists for its 12-man Olympic basketball roster on Monday.

The list is led by LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, seeking to become the first men to make four U.S. Olympic basketball teams. They were gold medalists in 2012 and 2008 and bronze medalists in 2004.

James, though, is no guarantee to suit up in Rio, even if USA Basketball wants him to.

“I haven’t thought about it,” James said Monday. “The last thing I thought about Team USA was Kobe [Bryant] taking his name out of the pool. That’s the last thing I kind of really thought about, so I’m not any inch closer to playing or not any inch closer to not playing. I haven’t really thought about it much.”

Finalists include nine of the 12 players on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, missing Bryant, Tyson Chandler and Deron Williams.

Bryant, 37, announced Saturday that he would not seek a place on the Olympic team.

Other missing players include point guards Derrick Rose and Damian Lillard and 2004 and 2008 Olympian Dwyane Wade, who were not on a 34-man August camp roster. Bryant, Chandler and Williams were also not on that camp roster.

Potential first-time Olympians include NBA MVP Stephen CurryBlake Griffin (originally named to the 2012 team but later withdrew due to injury) and Paul George, whom Colangelo reportedly said had “a spot for him” waiting in 2016 six days after George broke his right leg in a U.S. camp scrimmage on Aug. 1, 2014.

USA Basketball did not say in the press release when the final 12-man Olympic team will be named. In 2012, it named its Olympic roster three weeks before the Games.

“Obviously selecting the official roster of 12 players for the Olympics in 2016 will be a very, very difficult process,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said in a press release. “As has been the case with past USA Basketball teams, the goal once again is to select the very best team possible to represent the United States.”

The finalists:

LaMarcus Aldridge
Carmelo Anthony — 2004, 2008, 2012 Olympian
Harrison Barnes
Bradley Beal
Jimmy Butler
Mike Conley
DeMarcus Cousins
Stephen Curry
Anthony Davis — 2012 Olympian
DeMar DeRozan
Andre Drummond
Kevin Durant — 2012 Olympian
Kenneth Faried
Rudy Gay
Paul George
Draymond Green
Blake Griffin — On original 2012 Olympic roster, then injured
James Harden — 2012 Olympian
Gordon Hayward
Dwight Howard — 2008 Olympian
Andre Iguodala — 2012 Olympian
Kyrie Irving
LeBron James — 2004, 2008, 2012 Olympian
DeAndre Jordan
Kawhi Leonard
Kevin Love — 2012 Olympian
Chris Paul — 2008, 2012 Olympian
Klay Thompson
John Wall
Russell Westbrook — 2012 Olympian

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Noah Lyles runs personal best and is coming for Usain Bolt’s world record

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Noah Lyles ran a personal-best time in the 60m on Saturday, then reaffirmed record-breaking intentions for the 100m and, especially, the 200m, where Usain Bolt holds the fastest times in history.

Lyles, the world 200m champion, won the 60m sprint in 6.51 seconds at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, clipping Trayvon Bromell by two thousandths in his first top-level meet of the year. Bromell, the world 100m bronze medalist, is a past world indoor 60m champion and has a better start than Lyles, which is crucial in a six-second race.

But on Saturday, Lyles ran down Bromell and shaved four hundredths off his personal best. It bodes well for Lyles’ prospects come the spring and summer outdoor season in his better distances — the 100m and 200m.

“This is the moment I’ve been working, like, seven years for,” he said. “We’re not just coming for the 200m world record. We’re coming for all the world records.”

Last July, Lyles broke Michael Johnson‘s 26-year-old American record in the 200m, winning the world title in 19.31 seconds. Only Bolt (19.19) and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake (19.26) have run faster.

Lyles has since spoken openly about targeting Bolt’s world record from 2009.

How does an indoor 60m time play into that? Well, Lyles said that his success last year sprung from a strong indoor season, when he lowered his personal best in the 60m from 6.57 to 6.56 and then 6.55. He followed that by lowering his personal best in the 200m from 19.50 to 19.31.

He believes that slicing an even greater chunk off his 60m best on Saturday means special things are on the horizon come the major summer meets — the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in July (on the same Oregon track where he ran the American 200m record) and the world championships in Budapest in August.

After focusing on the 200m last year, Lyles plans to race both the 100m and the 200m this year. He has a bye into the 200m at world championships, so expect him to race the 100m at USATF Outdoors, where the top three are in line to join world champ Fred Kerley on the world team.

Lyles’ personal best in the 100m is 9.86, a tenth off the best times from Kerley, Bromell and 2019 World 100m champ Christian Coleman. Bolt is in his own tier at 9.58.

Also Saturday, Grant Holloway extended a near-nine-year, 50-plus-race win streak in the 60m hurdles, clocking 7.38 seconds, nine hundredths off his world record. Olympic teammate Daniel Roberts was second in 7.46. Trey Cunningham, who took silver behind Holloway in the 110m hurdles at last July’s world outdoor championships, was fifth in 7.67.

Aleia Hobbs won the women’s 60m in 7.02 seconds, one week after clocking a personal-best 6.98 to become the third-fastest American in history after Gail Devers and Marion Jones (both 6.95). Hobbs, 26, placed sixth in the 100m at last July’s world championships.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world 400m hurdles champion competing for the first time since August, and Jamaican Shericka Jackson, the world 200m champion, were ninth and 10th in the 60m heats, just missing the eight-woman final.

In the women’s pole vault, Bridget Williams, seventh at last year’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, upset the last two Olympic champions — American Katie Moon and Greek Katerina Stefanidi. Williams won with a 4.63-meter clearance (and then cleared 4.71 and a personal-best 4.77). Stefanidi missed three attempts at 4.63, while Moon went out at 4.55.

The indoor track and field season continues with the Millrose Games in New York City next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

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Birk Irving, last man on Olympic team, extends breakout season with Mammoth win

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One year ago, Birk Irving was the last man to make the four-man U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team. Since, he continued to climb the ranks in arguably the nation’s strongest discipline across skiing and snowboarding.

Irving earned his second World Cup win this season, taking the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California, on Friday.

Irving posted a 94-point final run, edging Canadian Brendan Mackay by one point. David Wise, the two-time Olympic champion who won his fifth X Games Aspen title last Sunday, was third.

A tribute was held to 2015 World champion Kyle Smaine, a U.S. halfpipe skier who died in an avalanche in Japan last Sunday.

“We’re all skiing the best we have because we’re all skiing with Kyle in our hearts,” Irving said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “We’re skiing for him, and we know he’s looking down on us. We miss you Kyle. We love you. Thank you for keeping us safe in the pipe today.”

Irving also won the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Dec. 17. Plus, the 23-year-old from Colorado had his best career X Games Aspen finish last Sunday, taking second.

The next major event is the world championships in Georgia (the country, not the state) in early March. Irving was third at the last worlds in 2021, then fifth at the Olympics last February.

The U.S. has been the strongest nation in men’s ski halfpipe since it debuted at the Olympics in 2014. Wise won the first two gold medals. Alex Ferreira won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics. Aaron Blunck is a world champion and X Games champion.

Irving is younger than all of them and has beaten all of them at multiple competitions this season.

New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, hasn’t competed since the Games after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

In snowboarding events at Mammoth, Americans Julia Marino and Lyon Farrell earned slopestyle wins by posting the top qualification scores. The finals were canceled due to wind.

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