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Painful Start for Team USA

By 07.21.10

Amar'e Stoudemire (photo. King Lawrence)


David Lee is getting paid ($80 million), but he may not know what he’s getting into going to Golden State. Not to say there’s a curse on the franchise, but, well, No. 6 pick Ekpe Udoh has already gone down with a wrist injury that could put him out up to six months. And his replacement in the rotation will likely be Brandan Wright, who is about as durable as a cheap pinata.”That was nine days ago in Smack. Then, in his first real court time as a member of the Warriors — yesterday’s opening session the Team USA training camp — Lee suffered what was believed to be a serious right middle finger injury. Lee said the finger was “completely turned to the side” and guessed it could be a tendon issue or a dislocation, and was flown back to Cali to get it checked out. No word yet on if he’ll need surgery. And so far, no truth to the rumor that the Warriors have requested a protective bubble be placed around Stephen Curry for the rest of camp … Amar’e had to pull out of Team USA camp last-minute due to a problem with his insurance. Long story short, Amar’e could blow some of that $100 million if he blows out his knee again, and the Knicks don’t want to risk him getting hurt. Robin Lopez (back) is also out of action this week, and Blake Griffin (knee) declined an invitation … So the U.S. is now painfully thin in terms of big men: Right now it’s Brook Lopez, Tyson Chandler, JaVale McGee and maybe Kevin Love as the only potential centers … We’ve gone over how none of the ’08 Olympic squad is in Vegas right now and none will play in the World Championship, but here’s something crazy: Go back and look at the ’04 Olympic squad (the bronze medalists) and check their current national team status. Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury wouldn’t get invites right now if they worked in the USA Basketball mail room; Duncan probably wouldn’t suit up if Barack Obama himself asked; Shawn Marion and Richard Jefferson‘s days are behind them; and Emeka Okafor was as irrelevant in ’04 as Christian Laettner was in ’92 and has since dropped off Jerry Colangelo’s radar. The only guys from that team still in the USA program are LeBron, D-Wade, Amar’e, Boozer, ‘Melo and Lamar Odom, and a lot would have to happen for L.O. to make a major tournament roster again … And speaking of old memories, did you know Team USA hasn’t won gold at the World Championship since 1994? That was Dream Team 2, starring Young Shaq, Shawn Kemp, Larry Johnson (pre-Rick Ross beard), Reggie Miller, Dan Majerle, Joe Dumars (about 100 pounds ago), Derrick Coleman, Steve Smith and the rest. Raise your hand if you still have either the original “Dream Team 2″ video cassette, or one of those McDonald’s cups … Last year’s USA camp was Kevin Durant‘s unofficial breakout, and this summer he’ll be The Man on the national squad. Who’s going to blow up this week and flip that into a dominant NBA season? We’re liking Derrick Rose, but O.J. Mayo could also make some big strides in his game … It’s not just Team USA that will be lacking some star power, though. Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman announced yesterday that they’re both sitting out for Germany, Tony Parker is out for France, Manu Ginobili is out for Argentina, and Yao Ming is out for China, to name a few. The Dirk/Kaman hole is the biggest to fill. Are you putting money on a team where Jan Jagla is gonna have to get buckets? … We’re out like D-Lee …


TOPICS#BLAKE GRIFFIN#DERRICK ROSE#KEVIN DURANT
TAGSALLEN IVERSONAMARE STOUDEMIREBARACK OBAMABrandon WrightBROOK LOPEZDAVID LEEDIRK NOWITZKIEKPE UDOHEmeka OkaforJAVALE MCGEEKEVIN LOVELARRY JOHNSONMANU GINOBILIO.J. MAYOREGGIE MILLERRICHARD JEFFERSONROBIN LOPEZShaquille O'NealSHAWN KEMPSmackSTEPHEN CURRYSTEPHON MARBURYTIM DUNCANTONY PARKERTYSON CHANDLERYAO MING

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