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LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry in Olympic player pool

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LeBron JamesKevin Durant and Stephen Curry headline the 35-player U.S. men’s basketball team expected to attend a July minicamp in Las Vegas.

The 12-man rosters for the 2019 FIBA World Cup and 2020 Olympics are expected to be comprised wholly from players on the national team, though the player pool is fluid. Players can be added and subtracted from the national team at any time.

All of the biggest U.S. stars in the NBA are in the player pool, including all 13 players who made All-NBA teams last season and the entire All-NBA First Team (Russell WestbrookJames HardenKawhi Leonard, James and Anthony Davis).

All but one player from the 2016 Olympic team is back to train under new coach Gregg Popovich, who succeeds Mike Krzyzewski.

The exception is Carmelo Anthony, who retired from international play after winning a U.S. men’s record third gold medal in Rio, where he became the U.S.’ all-time leading scorer and rebounder in Olympic play.

James earned gold medals in 2008 and 2012, while Durant took gold in 2012 and 2016. Curry has never played with both James and Durant in an international tournament. He was on the 2010 and 2014 World Cup teams (without James) but was not among 20 finalists for the 2012 Olympic team.

Curry withdrew from 2016 Olympic consideration two months before the Games, citing several reasons, including knee and ankle injuries. James withdrew from the Rio team two weeks later.

Four players from the 2014 FIBA World Cup team are also not on the national team — Kenneth FariedRudy GayMason Plumlee and Derrick Rose — all of whom are primarily bench players in the NBA now.

The full national team:

Harrison Barnes (Dallas Mavericks)
Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)
Jimmy Butler (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Mike Conley Jr. (Memphis Grizzlies)
DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans Pelicans)
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors)
Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons)
Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
Paul George (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets)
Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
Blake Griffin (Detroit Pistons)
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Tobias Harris (Los Angeles Clippers)
Gordon Hayward (Boston Celtics)
Kyrie Irving (Boston Celtics)
LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers)
Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)
CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers)
Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)
Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers)
Chris Paul (Houston Rockets)
Isaiah Thomas (Los Angeles Lakers)
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers)
Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets)
John Wall (Washington Wizards)
Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)

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Richard Callaghan, figure skating coach, banned for life

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Richard Callaghan, a figure skating coach best known for helping Tara Lipinski earn 1998 Olympic gold, was ruled permanently ineligible for violations including sexual misconduct involving a minor.

Callaghan can still appeal the sexual misconduct violation, according to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a watchdog for U.S. Olympic sports organizations that updated Callaghan’s status Wednesday.

He was first suspended in March 2018 pending an investigation into allegations first made against him more than 20 years ago.

Earlier this month, another former skater, Adam Schmidt, said in a lawsuit that he was sexually molested as a teenager by Callaghan starting in 1999.

Callaghan was previously accused of sexual misconduct in April 1999 by Craig Maurizi, one of his former students and later an assistant to him in San Diego and Detroit.

Maurizi told The New York Times that Callaghan had engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with him beginning when he was 15 years old. The alleged misconduct had begun nearly 20 years earlier. Callaghan denied the allegations.

In March 2018, Callaghan told ABC News: “That’s 19 or 20 years ago. I have nothing to say.”

Maurizi’s previous grievance against Callaghan with the U.S. Figure Skating Association, the precursor to U.S. Figure Skating, was dismissed on procedural grounds.

He was Callaghan’s assistant at the Detroit Skating Club until they split after Lipinski turned pro, left Callaghan and decided to train with Maurizi.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Pita Taufatofua, Tonga flag bearer, finishes last in kayak debut

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Pita Taufatofua, the Tonga Olympic flag bearer who went viral in Rio and PyeongChang, began his quest to make a third straight Olympics in a third different sport with a last-place finish in his opening-round heat at the world sprint kayak championships in Hungary on Wednesday.

The start of the heat appeared delayed as Taufatofua struggled to get his kayak into position in the water. He was left at the start as the other six kayakers raced out and finished between 33 and 40 seconds. Taufatofua took 58.19 seconds, the slowest of 53 finishers among seven total heats.

“Well that was slightly better than the first time I competed in Taekwondo or skiing,” was tweeted from Taufatofua’s account. “Would have liked to start facing the right way but that’s life.”

Taufatofua, 35, was the oldest athlete in the heat by nearly a decade. He is also entered in doubles races with Tonga canoe federation president Malakai Ahokava with heats Thursday and Friday.

Taufatofua hopes to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in taekwondo, where he competed in Rio, and in sprint kayak.

But he hasn’t competed in taekwondo in three years and just started training kayak this spring. At worlds, Taufatofua told the BBC he is still having trouble staying afloat in the water.

Taufatofua said in announcing the new sport in April that it would be “largely impossible” to qualify for Tokyo. He could be the first athlete to compete in a different sport in three straight Olympics (Summer and Winter) since the Winter Games began in 1924, according to the OlyMADMen.

“It’s certainly going to be the greatest challenge that I’ve ever had to embark on,” he said then.

Taufatofua’s results at worlds this week has little bearing on his Olympic qualifying prospects. Rather, he just needed to compete in Hungary to stay eligible for the Olympics.

The key will be an Oceania qualifying event early next year, where one Olympic bid is available. He will likely have to beat the best kayakers from Australia and New Zealand to grab it. Australian Stephen Bird placed eighth at the Rio Olympics and 11th at the 2018 World Championships.

If Taufatofua fails, he could receive a special tripartite invitation sometimes offered to smaller nations like Tonga.

Taufatofua became a social-media celebrity by marching into the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony shirtless and oiled up. He then lost in the first round via mercy rule in his taekwondo tournament.

He made a quixotic bid for the PyeongChang Winter Games in cross-country skiing — and accomplished the feat, barely, in a sport that has lenient qualifying requirements for nations with a lack of Winter Games depth.

Taufatofua finished 114th out of 116 in his 15km Olympic cross-country skiing race, nearly 23 minutes behind the winner.

If Taufatofua is able to carry the Tongan flag at a third Opening Ceremony, he will definitely be shirtless again, in a similar outfit to what he wore in Rio and PyeongChang, he said last year.

MORE: Five-time Olympic kayak medalist banned four years

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