Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Events set for Rucker Park, MSG
NEW YORK -- Kevin Durant plans to take the court in Times Square in August.
Who will join him is one of the mysteries of this summer's NBA free agent frenzy.
The U.S. basketball team and the squads from four other countries will bring their world championship preparations to New York for the World Basketball Festival, which will open with the Americans taking part in an outdoor event on a regulation court set up in Times Square.
USA Basketball and Nike announced Wednesday that the inaugural festival will take place Aug. 12-15, with hopes it will return every two years in different locations in advance of the world championships or Olympics.
The Americans will face France, while China will take on Puerto Rico, in exhibitions at Madison Square Garden on the final day. Brazil, Puerto Rico and France will hold open practices and scrimmages at Harlem's famed Rucker Park earlier in the weekend. The festival will benefit communities in New York by providing resources to help more kids play basketball.
The United States will start training in Las Vegas from July 19-24 and resume workouts Aug. 9-16 in New York. Then it's on to Spain for games against Lithuania and the host country, followed by a matchup with Greece in Athens. The world championships are Aug. 28-Sept. 12 in Istanbul, Turkey.
USA basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo acknowledged that along with the usual injuries and personal commitments, the travails of free agency could alter his roster.
As basketball fans are well aware, this year's stellar class includes the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Depending on when players sign with their old or new teams, Colangelo could find some of his biggest stars unavailable.
Just in case there was any doubt, Colangelo made it absolutely official that Durant will be on the squad. The 21-year-old All-NBA forward for the Thunder knows he'll have to immediately step into a leadership role in his first stint playing for the U.S. team.
Colangelo talked about the "equity" certain players have built up by participating with the U.S. team over the years. That could come into play if some of them have to miss part of the world championship preparations.
"If those guys say they want to play but can't make, say, a minicamp, you've still got to take into consideration that they've been there. They've been through everything as an Olympian," Durant said. "If they say they want to come to the world championships, they have to come, you know what I mean? You have to put them on the team."