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The lip service USA Basketball has paid to selecting more than a glorified All-Star team to represent the country has finally taken a turn with the addition of Pistons small forward Tayshaun Prince. He, of course, never has been an All-Star. He's simply a winner, which is why it's no accident that Detroit has won at least 50 games all five seasons he's been with them.
Prince is exactly the kind of savvy player essential to success in international competition, where mental tenacity trumps vertical hops and chemistry is more important than individual excellence. Not that Prince, at 6-9 with a 7-foot wingspan, can't play above the rim or break off electric moves -- they're just way down his priority list.
Prince's excellence for the Pistons has hinged on his ability to make whatever adjustments necessary to fit his game around that of his teammates. That's why Detroit's four other starters were All-Stars and you've never heard a peep from Prince about respect or touches. Sure, his 14 points and five rebounds a game this season look rather modest. But need someone to smother LeBron? Check. Need someone to light up Luol Deng? Check. Bury a 3, score on the block, reject a sure layup, grab a rally-killing rebound? Check, check, check, check.
-- Ric Bucher