Thursday, April 10, 2003
Iverson, O'Neal will be asked to join 2004 team
Allen Iverson and Jermaine O'Neal will be asked to join the 2004
U.S. Olympic men's basketball team, a source told The Associated
Press on Thursday.
The decision was made in a conference call among members of the
USA Basketball selection committee, a basketball source with
knowledge of the selections said on condition of anonymity.
The choices of Iverson and O'Neal bring to nine the number of
players who have been either selected or officially named to the
Asked about the Olympics on Thursday, Iverson said he hasn't
received official word.
"It's something I'll cherish for the rest of my life,'' Iverson
said after scoring 25 points in Philadelphia's 99-78 win over
Boston. "It has a lot to do with respect. Only the elite players
represent their country."
USAB only has said publicly that Ray Allen, Tim Duncan, Jason
Kidd and Tracy McGrady are on the team. Further announcements will
be made to include the additions of Iverson, O'Neal, Mike Bibby,
Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant.
Iverson's selection fulfills one of his wishes and sets him up
to play for his Philadelphia 76ers coach, Larry Brown, on the
"It just shows I came a long way and overcame a lot of
obstacles in my life," Iverson said. "If I'm surrounded by great
players, it's going to definitely bring out the greatness in my
O'Neal, who plays for the Indiana Pacers, will become the first
member of the U.S. team that finished sixth last summer at the
World Championships to be invited back to play for Team USA.
The U.S. team now has plenty of backcourt scorers and three
power forwards, but still no center.
If the selection committee does not select a true center when it
fills out the final three roster spots, O'Neal and Duncan would
presumably play out of position and fill that role.
Previously, USA Basketball said the final two or three spots on
the roster would go to collegians or people playing overseas.
The team will play in a qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico in
August, attempting to gain one of three Olympic berths available to
the FIBA-Americas region for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Iverson said that the team has stars with big egos but that he
could fit in.
"It's going to be a team thing," he said. "I won't have a
problem playing the role I have to play."