Damian Lillard added as U.S. Olympic basketball team finalist

Damian Lillard
AP
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Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard was added to the list of 30 finalists to make the 12-man U.S. roster for the Olympics, USA Basketball announced Wednesday.

Lillard, 25 and a two-time All-Star, did not attend an August camp deemed mandatory for Olympic consideration, but called USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo and expressed desire for the Rio Games.

“Both [coach] Mike [Krzyzewski] and I feel like Damian is playing at a very high level and that he should be added to our list of Olympic finalists,” Colangelo said in a press release. “Damian has been a member of the USA National Team since 2014, and he participated in National Team training camps in 2013 and 2014, so he does have equity in USA Basketball, which is always important to me.”

Last summer, Lillard said he probably wouldn’t go to the August camp after he was one of the final four cuts from the 2014 FIBA World Cup roster.

“I don’t know why I would go if I got cut last summer,” Lillard said in a radio interview last summer.

Lillard explained Wednesday why he changed his mind.

“I knew that down the line I still wanted to be a part of [USA Basketball], and I think it was just the fact that we got to speak about it face-to-face,” Lillard told media before a game against the Rockets. “I wasn’t getting the opportunity, and I felt that way, I was a little bit down on it. But going into it [now], I won’t have that on my mind and on my heart. I’ll go into it with good intentions.”

USA Basketball has not said when the final 12-man Olympic team will be named. In 2012, it named its Olympic roster three weeks before the London Games.

The 2012 Olympic roster included three point guards — Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams. Paul and Westbrook are finalists for the 2016 team, but Williams is not.

Other potential first-time Olympic point guards competing with Lillard include NBA MVP Stephen Curry, All-Star John Wall and past All-Star Kyrie Irving.

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