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The low-key challenge that awaits Kerr and Team USA at the 2024 Olympics

The low-key challenge that awaits Kerr and Team USA at the 2024 Olympics originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Gone is the fear factor that once captured the hearts of teams facing the Team USA men’s basketball teams. There is definitely respect, but it has become clear that the rest of the planet is closing the gap.

The goal of the team that will travel to Paris for the Summer Olympics is to remind opponents that the divide still exists.

This roster, announced Wednesday, is built to dominate.

Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Devin Booker, Joel Embiid and Kawhi Leonard. Anthony Davis, Anthony Edwards and Jayson Tatum. Bam Adebayo, Tyrese Haliburton and Jrue Holiday.

It is experienced, but has a lot of youth. It’s big and skilled, with a wonderful blend of athleticism and instincts. Perhaps the most complete American group since the one and only Dream Team from 1992.

“What can I say? That we need more firepower? That we need more talent?,” Team USA head coach Steve Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area, chuckling himself. “We clearly have the cream of the crop. This one guys are the best players in the country. It’s exciting.

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“But this isn’t 1992. It might feel like the Dream Team from a stardom and status standpoint. But from the opponents’ point of view, it won’t feel that way. The world has really caught up.”

Still, Team USA is the prohibitive favorite, as it should be. It has won the last four Olympic gold medals.

This group is expected to separate itself from a talented field including Serbia, France, Canada and Germany – who defeated the US squad in the FIBA ​​World Cup last summer before toppling Serbia in the championship match.

Kerr invoked the legendary Kobe Bryant’s approach to the 2008 Olympic team – nicknamed the “Redeem Team” – as it sought to avenge Team USA’s third-place finish at the 2004 Games in Greece.

“He said we helped elevate basketball worldwide,” Kerr said. “That’s great. We have to feel good about that. But let’s start winning again. We have to take back our right mantle as the best.

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“It will be a similar atmosphere.”

That makes it something of a comfort zone for Curry, who will appear on the Olympic podium for the first time at the age of 36. Chasing the gold is a priority, one of the few remaining achievements on his basketball bucket list.

It’s the only roster he’s been on that has more of everything than the Warriors did at the height of their dynastic run.

This 2024 group was put together by USA Basketball president Grant Hill and national director Sean Ford, along with Kerr and his staff: Gonzaga coach Mark Few, Los Angeles Clippers coach Tyronn Lue and Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

“Not everyone was involved in every decision, but we wanted everyone’s opinion,” Kerr said. “We did a lot of calls and zooms, just talking and thinking about FIBA ​​and what we need.

“There are obviously a lot of great players. I can’t get them all. What you’re trying to do is cover all the bases for what you need.

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Naturally, some deserving players were left out, most notably Knicks guard Jalen Brunson. His 28.7 points per game ranked fourth in the NBA this season, but first among American-born players.

This points to the progress made abroad. The leading scorer, Mavericks guard Luka Doncić, with 33.9 points per game, was born in Slovenia. The No. 2 scorer, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (30.4), was born in Greece. The No. 3 scorer, Thunderguard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, is a Canadian citizen.

Additionally, the last five NBA MVP awards have gone to players born outside the United States. Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokić (Serbia) were consecutive winners ahead of Embiid, who was born in Cameroon but acquired U.S. citizenship in 2022.

Team USA has a clear mission. It’s a challenge, but we couldn’t be better equipped to make it happen.

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