Four MVP Awards, all five 2010-11 All-NBA First Team selections and countless All-Star game appearances. This is just a glimpse of the various accomplishments that the 19 players reportedly among the finalists to compose the 12-man roster for Team USA at the 2012 Olympics in London have to their credit.
Chris Sheridan posted the preliminary roster on his blog on Tuesday afternoon, and it is impressive to say the least. One look at the players who made the cut, and it's arguable that the USA could field a squad just as talented as the 1992 Dream Team that rolled through the competition in Barcelona.
Much of the nucleus of the USA's 2008 Olympic team that won the gold medal in Beijing made the first cut, including Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, who committed to playing on the team last August.
This list of 19 players must be whittled down to 12, which given the star power and talent involved, will be no simple task. Each of these players is among the best at his position and, with the exception of Chauncey Billups, is near the prime of his career. At this level, none of these guys are accustomed to being role players let alone being told that they won't make the team. While the honor of playing for one's country should be enough to put egos aside, it doesn't mean that feelings won't be hurt and pre-existing tensions between rival players won't come out as they fight for spots. In 2010, Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo abruptly withdrew from the team before the FIBA World Championships, sensing that he may be the final cut after riding the bench for an entire exhibition game against Spain. Rondo was fighting with Derrick Rose and Billups for a point guard spot, two players as adept as scoring as they are at facilitating. Rondo is conspicuously absent from this preliminary roster.
Who will be left off this time around? Who must the team bring with them to London?
We've compiled a list of the players fighting for those spots below and included their international experience.