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

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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

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Joey Mantia extends U.S. medal streak at speed skating worlds; Dutch dominance returns

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Joey Mantia ensured the host U.S. finished with a medal at the world single distances championships. Ireen WüstKjeld Nuis and Jorrit Bergsma ensured the Netherlands finished atop the medal standings.

Mantia joined Shani Davis as the only U.S. men to earn individual medals at three different editions of the championships, taking bronze in the 1500m on the last day of the speed skating meet at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Mantia won the mass start at the last two worlds in 2017 and 2019 (and finished fifth on Sunday, after the 1500m bronze).

Mantia clocked a personal best 1:42.16 in the fifth of 12 pairs of the 1500m. It held up until Nuis (1:41.66) and countryman Thomas Krol (1:41.73) in the last two pairs.

“Was starting to think that I’m so old that I can’t time trial anymore,” Mantia, a 34-year-old whose last 1500m personal best came in 2015, told media in Utah. “Maybe there’s a little bit of hope left.”

Mantia’s medal extended the U.S. streak of making the podium at every world championships this millennium — 16 straight. The single bronze is the smallest medal output since 2000.

Full results are here.

Wüst and Nuis gave the Dutch a sweep of the men’s and women’s 1500m titles, two years after they did the same at the PyeongChang Olympics. Bergsma, an Olympic and world 10,000m champion, earned his first global medal of any color — gold — in the 16-lap mass start.

The Netherlands failed to earn any golds on the first two days of the four-day competition. The dominant Dutch, who topped the medal standings at every Olympics and worlds dating to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, entered Sunday trailing Russia.

But Wüst began the day by clocking 1:50.92 to win the 1500m by .21 over Russian Yevgenia Lalenkova. American medal hope Brittany Bowe, the 2015 World champion who took bronze last year, finished 14th a day after taking eighth in her world-record 1000m distance.

Nuis and Krol went one-two in the men’s 1500m to tie Russia’s medal total. Then Irene Schouten took bronze in the women’s mass start to put the Netherlands ahead for good, followed by Bergsma’s capper.

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MORE: Shani Davis retires, takes new role in speed skating

Netherlands on the board; more world records at speed skating worlds

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It took four world records from other countries before the Netherlands won its first title in an Olympic program event at the world single distances speed skating championships.

Jutta Leerdam got the dominant skating nation on the board on the third day of the four-day competition and in the ninth Olympic program event. Leerdam scored an upset over defending champion and world-record holder Brittany Bowe, the American who ended up eighth.

Leerdam, 21, prevailed despite having zero World Cup podiums to her name. She clocked 1:11.84, just .23 slower than Bowe’s world record set on the same Utah Olympic Oval last year. Bowe, who recently had her yearlong win streak snapped in the 1000m, finished in 1:12.92.

“It’s a nightmare,” Bowe said, according to media on site.

Later, the Netherlands won the men’s team pursuit in a world record 3:34.68, the fifth world record in Olympic events the last two days on the world’s fastest ice at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Full results are here.

The world championships conclude Sunday, highlighted by American Joey Mantia defending his world title in the mass start.

In other Saturday events, both the men’s 1000m and women’s 5000m world records fell. On Friday, world records were lowered in the men’s 10,000m and women’s team pursuit.

Pavel Kulizhnikov followed his Friday world 500m title with the 1000m crown, repeating his double gold from 2016. Kulizhnikov was one of the Russians banned from the PyeongChang Olympics after he served a prior doping ban.

On Saturday, Kulizhnikov clocked 1:05.69 to take .49 off Dutchman Kjeld Nuis‘ record from last March, also set at Salt Lake City. Nuis, the Olympic 1000m and 1500m champion, took silver, 1.03 seconds behind.

Russian Natalya Voronina and Czech Martina Sablikova both went under Sablikova’s world record in the 5000m. Voronina came out on top in 6:39.02, 2.99 seconds faster than Sablikova’s record from a year ago and 2.16 seconds faster than Sablikova on Saturday.

Voronina’s time would have been the men’s world record as recently as 1993. Sablikova won the previous 10 world titles in the event dating to 2007.

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MORE: World Single Distances Championships broadcast schedule