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Friday, December 8, 2006
LeBrattitude: King James Had His Moments with Team USA

Remember back in the summer when Team USA convened training camp in Las Vegas with way more players then thay could take to Asia for the World Championships? Jerry Colangelo and the coaches of that team (Mike Krzyzewski, assisted by Mike D'Antoni, Jim Boeheim, and Nate McMillan) must have had a devil of a time figuring out who to cut, especially when you consider that they were, essentially, all big names--and USA Basketball has to try to keep everyone happy and motivated so they'll keep playing hard each of the next two summers. It's a massive commitment for some very busy NBA players.

Of course, one player who had no chance of being booted was superstar LeBron James, right? The Associated Press story about the cuts made a joke of it, opening like this:

LeBron James already knew his name would be called when coach Mike Krzyzewski announced the U.S. national team's 15-man traveling roster Tuesday.

It still gave James a thrill to hear he's definitely headed to Asia next month for the world championships.

"I wasn't sweating, but it makes basketball a lot more fun when you're with a great team, and when you're around guys you know," James said.

Here's a surprising piece of news: LeBron James may have been sweating just a little. He evidently brought some unwelcome attitude to the first few days of USA Basketball training camp in Las Vegas last summer. Sources with first-hand knowledge say that it was bad enough that when the team's managing director, Jerry Colangelo, asked the coaching staff to choose the player they'd like to cut first, three coaches are said to have offered King James' name.

Leave home one of the best players in the world? Why would any coach do that? Here's my guess: those coaches had a short training camp to build a close-knit team from scratch, and the whole thing American teams have been lacking is cohesive teamwork. Big attitudes are the antithesis of what those coaches were hired to do.

As it turnd out, they didn't get their way. Sources says the coaches were rebuffed by Colangelo. Adam Morrison, Luke Ridnour, and an injured Shawn Marion ended up being the first cuts (followed by Gilbert Arenas, Bruce Bowen, and gimpy Amare Stoudemire). And something happened to snap LeBron James into gear: he was named a team captain.