Getty Images

LeBron James, Stephen Curry lead finalists for Olympic men’s basketball roster

Leave a comment

LeBron JamesStephen Curry and every active American superstar in the NBA, plus the injured Kevin Durant, headline 44 finalists for the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team. It’s USA Basketball’s largest player pool for 12 roster spots since it began naming finalists in 2008.

The full list of finalists:

Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat)
LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs)
Harrison Barnes
 (Sacramento Kings)
Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)
Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana Pacers)
Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics)
Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat)
Mike Conley Jr. (Utah Jazz)
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)
DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio Spurs)
Andre Drummond (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets)
Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers)
Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers)
Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets)
Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers)
Gordon Hayward (Boston Celtics)
Dwight Howard (Los Angeles Lakers)
Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans)
Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)
LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)
Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers)
Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers)
Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks)
Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)
JaVale McGee (Los Angeles Lakers)
Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)
Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)
Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers)
Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Mason Plumlee (Denver Nuggets)
Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics)
Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers)
Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics)
Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets)
Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs)

Durant, the leading scorer on the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams, will miss the entire NBA season after rupturing an Achilles in June. Every eligible 2020 NBA All-Star is a finalist except Trae Young.

Other notable missing names: Four-time Olympian Carmelo Anthony (retired from international play after Rio), Rio Olympians DeMarcus Cousins (out with an ACL tear) and DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin (knee surgery in January) and John Wall (out since last February due to Achilles surgery).

The final team, expected to be named by selection committee in June, will play with the memory of Kobe Bryant. Bryant was a leader on the 2008 and 2012 Olympic teams that brought the U.S. back to its dominant place in global basketball.

Bryant attended last September’s FIBA World Cup, where the U.S. finished seventh, its worst-ever senior national team tournament result. After that failure, many NBA superstars declared intent to play at the Olympics.

“It’s not a matter of the rest of the world catching up to the U.S.,” Bryant said at the World Cup in China. “The rest of the world has been caught up for quite some time. It’s to the point where us in the U.S. are going to win some, going to lose some. There’s just great basketball being played. Whether it’s Redeem [Team] two, no matter what team it is, it’s not going to be easy.”

After the U.S.’ FIBA World Cup disaster, James stopped short of saying he planned to be in Tokyo. At 35, he will be older come the Tokyo Opening Ceremony than all but one previous U.S. Olympic men’s basketball player (Larry Bird).

“Team USA? Um … I don’t know,” James said on Sept. 27. “See how I can do throughout this season. I will address that at some point, hopefully have an opportunity to have a conversation with coach [Gregg Popovich].”

James, a teammate of Bryant’s in 2008 and 2012, skipped the 2016 Rio Games to rest after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA title. He had been named one of 30 finalists earlier in the year. Other stars also missed the Rio Olympics for various reasons, including Curry, Harden and Westbrook.

In April 2018, James, Durant and Curry headlined the initial 35-player national team pool.

From 1992-2004, a USA Basketball committee chose Olympic teams without naming large pools of finalists. There were 33 finalists in 2008, 22 in 2012 and 30 in 2016.

MORE: Kobe Bryant: Redeem Team 2 might not be enough

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Noah Lyles raises black-gloved fist, wins 200m in Monaco

Leave a comment

Noah Lyles said he had plans going forward to make statements, beyond his rapid sprint times. He did that in Monaco on Friday.

Lyles raised a black, fingerless-gloved right fist before getting into the blocks to win a 200m in his first international race of the season, conjuring memories of the famous 1968 Olympic podium gesture.

He clocked 19.76 seconds, leading a one-two with younger brother Josephus. Full results are here.

“As athletes it’s hard to show that you love your country and also say that change is needed,” was posted on Lyles’ Instagram, along with hashtags including #blacklivesmatter. “This is my way of saying this country is great but it can be better.”

Lyles, the world 200m champion, also paid respect to 1968 Olympic 200m gold and bronze medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos three hours before the race.

He tweeted an iconic image of Smith and Carlos raising their single black-gloved fists on the medal stand at the Mexico City Games. Thirteen minutes earlier, Lyles posted an Instagram Story image of his socks for the meet — plain, dark colored.

Smith and Carlos wore black socks without shoes on the podium to signify endemic poverty back in the U.S. at the time.

Lyles is known for his socks, often posting images of colorful pairs he wears before races, themes including Speed Racer, R2-D2 and Sonic the Hedgehog.

“We are at the point where you can’t do nothing anymore,” Lyles said Wednesday. “There aren’t any rules set out. You’re kind of just pushing the boundary as far as you can go. Some people have said, even if there were rules, they’re willing to go farther than that.”

MORE: Noah, Josephus Lyles take 4-year journey to Monaco

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!


Joshua Cheptegei breaks 5000m world record in Monaco

Leave a comment

Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei broke a 16-year-old world record in the 5000m by nearly two seconds, clocking 12:35.36 in Monaco on Friday.

Cheptegei, the 2019 World 10,000m champion who reportedly needed 80 hours to travel from Uganda for the Diamond League meet, took 1.99 seconds off Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele‘s world record from 2004. Bekele is also the 10,000m world-record holder and the second-fastest marathoner in history.

“It took a lot of mind setting to keep being motivated this year because so many people are staying at home, but you have to stay motivated,” Cheptegei said, according to organizers. “I pushed myself, I had the right staff with me, the right coach.”

Cheptegei, 23, came into Monaco as the 73rd-fastest man in history with a personal best of 12:57.41. But he declared before the meet that the world record was his goal, given he had no Olympics or world championships to peak for this year.

“It is very difficult to run any world record,” was posted on the Instagram of Bekele, who is part of the NN Running Team with Cheptegei. “Congratulations to my teammate [Cheptegei].”

Full Monaco results are here. The Diamond League next moves to Stockholm on Aug. 23.

In other events Friday, Noah Lyles easily won a 200m after raising a black-gloved first before the start. More on Lyles’ gesture and victory here.

Donavan Brazier extended a year-plus 800m win streak, clocking 1:43.15 and holding off countryman Bryce Hoppel by .08. Brazier won his last seven meets, including national, world and Diamond League titles in 2019, when he broke a 34-year-old American record.

Olympic silver medalist Orlando Ortega of Spain won the 110m hurdles in 13.11 seconds, overtaking world champion Grant Holloway. Holloway, who won worlds in 13.10 last autumn, finished fourth in 13.19.

Timothy Cheruiyot followed his 2019 World title by clocking his second-fastest 1500m ever. The Kenyan recorded 3:28.45, holding off Norwegian 19-year-old Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who set a European record of 3:28.68.

Sifan Hassan, the world’s top female distance runner, dropped out of the 5000m with two and a half laps left while in the lead pack. Two-time world champion Hellen Obiri won in 14:22.12, surging past Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey on the final lap.

Karsten Warholm ran the joint eighth-fastest 400m hurdles in history, a 47.10 against a field that lacked rivals Rai Benjamin and Abderrahman Samba. Warholm, the two-time world champion, ranks second in history with a personal best of 46.92, trailing only American Kevin Young‘s 46.78 from the 1992 Olympics.

American Lynna Irby won her Diamond League debut with a 50.50 in the 400m. Irby, the second-fastest American in 2018, failed to make the 2019 World team. On Friday, she beat Wadeline Jonathas, the top American in 2019.

Pole vault world-record holder Mondo Duplantis needed three tries to clear 5.70 meters, then won with a 5.80-meter clearance (and then cleared six meters). Duplantis, whose mom drove his poles 25 hours from Sweden to Monaco, brought the world record to 6.18 meters in February.

American Sam Kendricks, two-time reigning world pole vault champion, did not compete because his poles did not arrive.

MORE: Noah, Josephus Lyles take 4-year journey to Monaco

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!