From the time men’s basketball tips off on July 29 at the 2012 London Olympics until the Gold Medal Game on August 12, there will be NBA players suiting up in jerseys other than the red, white and blue of Team USA.
International stars whose collective resumes include NBA championships, All-Star appearances, Sixth Man of the Year awards, a Rookie of the Year award and All-Defensive Team honors will compete against Team USA’s one-name global icons like LeBron and Kobe.
On the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Dream Team, here’s a look at the NBA talent that will compete in the Olympics for countries other than the USA.
Country (Best Olympic result)
Player, Height, Pos. (NBA team)
Spain (Silver: 2008, 1984)
The Gasol brothers, Pau and Marc, are joined by Congolese shot-blocker Serge Ibaka — who was recently nationalized by Spain — to give the Spaniards the best frontcourt in the tournament. La Roja would be even more dangerous if 21-year-old pass-first point man Ricky Rubio (knee) were healthy enough to play.
Spain lost 118–107 in the 2008 Beijing Olympics’ Gold Medal Game and trailed by only four points with just over two minutes to play. In order to remain as competitive without Rubio running the show, Spain must capitalize on its inside edge. They will attempt to take the air out of the ball, slow down Team USA’s fastbreak tempo and play an inside-out halfcourt style that relies on the Gasol brothers in the post and 3-point marksmen on the outside. Size matters, and Spain’s frontline is gigante.
Pau Gasol, 7-0, PF (Lakers, 4-time NBA All-Star)
Marc Gasol, 7-1, C (Grizzlies, 1-time NBA All-Star)
Serge Ibaka, 6-10, F/C (Thunder, 2012 NBA blocks leader)
Rudy Fernandez, 6-6, SG (Nuggets)
Jose Calderon, 6-3, PG (Raptors)
Victor Claver, 6-9, PF (Blazers)
Sergio Rodriguez, 6-3, PG (Knicks, 2010)
Juan Carlos Navarro, 6-3, SG (Grizzlies, 2008)
Argentina (Gold: 2004)
The Argentines return essentially the same squad that won the gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics — albeit eight years older, wiser and slower.
In 2004, Argentina defeated the USA, 89–81, in the semifinals, led by Manu Ginobili’s 29 points. After shocking Larry Brown’s Team USA — whose starting five consisted of Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, Stephon Marbury, Lamar Odom and Richard Jefferson — La Albiceleste routed Italy, 84–69, in the Gold Medal Game.
Manu Ginobili, 6-6, SG (Spurs, 2-time NBA All-Star)
Luis Scola, 6-9, PF (Rockets)
Carlos Delfino, 6-6, G/F (Bucks)
Andres Nocioni, 6-7, F (76ers)
France (Silver: 2000, 1948)
Tony Parker will rock a pair of sweet shades after suffering an eye injury in the Drake-Chris Brown NYC nightclub melee. But Eva Longoria’s ex-husband will play for Les Bleus. But without wild child big man Joakim Noah (ankle), France will have little chance against Team USA.
Tony Parker, 6-2, PG (Spurs, 4-time NBA All-Star)
Nicolas Batum, 6-8, SF (Blazers)
Boris Diaw, 6-8, PF (Spurs)
Ronny Turiaf, 6-10, C (Heat)
Kevin Seraphin, 6-9, C (Wizards)
Nando De Colo, 6-5, SG (Spurs)
Brazil (Bronze: 1964, 1960, 1948)
This samba is a warm-up for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil looks better on paper than it does on the court. But who knows? Maybe Neymar or Pele will show up to take in another beautiful game.
Leandro Barbosa, 6-3, SG (Pacers)
Anderson Varejao, 6-11, C (Cavaliers)
Nene, 6-11, F/C (Wizards)
Tiago Splitter, 6-11, F/C (Spurs)
Great Britain (No Olympic Medals)
Ben Gordon (shoulder) bailed on the host country, leaving a banged-up Luol Deng (wrist) to lead Great Britain.
Luol Deng, 6-9, SF (Bulls, 1-time NBA All-Star)
Joel Freeland, 6-10, F/C (Blazers)
Pops Mensah-Bonsu, 6-9, PF (Hornets, 2011)
Lithuania (Bronze: 2000, 1996, 1992)
Arvydas Sabonis and Sarunas Marciulionis aren’t walking through that door. But basketball geeks will get a chance to scout the No. 5 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, 20-year-old center Jonas Valanciunas — who will make his NBA debut on this side of the pond (but north of the border) for the Raptors in 2012-13.
Linas Kleiza, 6-8, PF (Raptors)
Jonas Valanciunas, 6-11, C (Raptors)
Russia (No Olympic Medals)
Even the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Soviet Union gold medal robbery won’t be enough to push Russia over the top.
Andrei Kirilenko, 6-9, SF (Jazz, 2011, 1-time NBA All-Star)
Timofey Mozgov, 7-1, C (Nuggets)
Australia (No Olympic Medals)
The Boomers will miss 7-foot former No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Bogut (ankle).
Patrick Mills, 6-0, PG (Spurs)
David Andersen, 6-11, C (Hornets, 2011)
Nigeria (No Olympic Medals)
Ranked No. 21 in the world, Nigeria is just happy to be here.
Al-Farouq Aminu, 6-9, PF (Hornets)
Ike Diogu, 6-10, PF (Spurs)
China (No Olympic Medals)
Yo, where’s Yao?
Yi Jianlian, 6-11, PF (Mavericks)
Sun Yue, 6-9, G/F (Lakers, 2009)
Wang Zhizhi, 7-0, C (Heat, 2005)
How the 12 Olympic qualifiers advanced to the Games of the XXX Olympiad.
USA – FIBA World Championship (winner)
Spain – FIBA EuroBasket (winner)
France – FIBA EuroBasket (runner-up)
Argentina – FIBA Americas Championship (winner)
Brazil – FIBA Americas Championship (runner-up)
China – FIBA Asia Championship (winner)
Tunisia – FIBA Africa Championship (winner)
Australia – FIBA Oceania Championship (winner)
Russia – FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Lithuania – FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Nigeria – FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Great Britain – Olympic Host Nation Automatic Qualification
by Nathan Rush