Blog Entry

Odom, Billups deserve to be rewarded

Posted on: September 12, 2010 5:13 pm
The revelation of the world championships, quite obviously, was Kevin Durant. He did everything for Team USA -- did exactly what was required of a blossoming superstar who was asked to put his imprint on the world basketball stage.

So without a doubt, Durant will be suiting up for the 2012 Olympics in London, when some of the divas who passed on Turkey will be back to defend the gold medal attained by the Redeem Team in Beijing two years ago. But what became plainly apparent Sunday, as the United States ended a 16-year drought in the FIBA worlds by beating Turkey 81-64 for the gold medal, is that not all of those '08 Olympians will be assured of getting their spots back.

Far from it.

It's widely assumed that three spots will be available: those belonging to Jason Kidd, Tayshaun Prince and Michael Redd. So as I plan out Mike Krzyzewski's Olympic roster before Team USA even gets to the airport, I say those spots should go to Durant, Lamar Odom and Chauncey Billups.

When the Americans left U.S. soil as underdogs to Spain in the eyes of many, I felt that however this tournament played out, Odom and Billups deserved spots on the team for London. As good as Durant was, it's impossible to dismiss the championship pedigree Odom and Billups brought to this otherwise woefully inexperienced team. If nothing else, Odom and Billups deserve a spot as a reward for taking one for the country this summer. They stepped up and gave Jerry Colangelo and Coach K their commitments at a time when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were too busy working on their Twitter accounts, and while Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony were occupied with trying to get traded.

As far as tangible contributions, Billups didn't shine during the tournament. But no one should have a problem with him getting the Jason Kidd memorial roster spot in London for his experience and for his trouble this summer. As for Odom, who was brilliant in the gold-medal game with 15 points and 11 rebounds -- including a flurry of putbacks, 3-pointers and work-ethic baskets in the fourth quarter -- he earned a spot regardless. My pal Gregg Doyel still thinks Odom is a lackadaisical yo-yo ; I've always thought he was wrong about that, and that much was proven beyond any doubt in this tournament. Odom was huge for the U.S. It was no coincidence that the Naismith Trophy was handed first to Odom and Billups Sunday in Istanbul. They earned it. American basketball is all about pecking order, and they were right at the top of it, where they belonged.

But this so-called "B-Team" so far exceeded expectations from spots 1-12 that there will be precious little room for sentimentality when Colangelo and Krzyzewski assemble the Olympic roster in two years. Let's say I'm right and you start with Durant, Odom and Billups joining '08 Olympians James, Wade, Anthony, Paul, Kobe Bryant, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams. How do you make room for Derrick Rose (which Colangelo must)? How do you ignore the versatility and defensive intangibles offered by Russell Westbrook (which Colangelo shouldn't)? How do you snub Blake Griffin and Tyreke Evans (you probably can't)? What if John Wall is as good as we think he is (which he is)? What if Rajon Rondo wants to play (which he should)?

As the adage goes, these are some good problems for the Americans to have. A few short years after the embarrassment of bronze medals at the 2006 world championships and 2004 Olympics, USA Basketball is back. It was back in Beijing two summers ago with the Redeem Team. But really, this B-Team should be -- and will be -- remembered for driving home the point.

At a time when reputations and gold medals were on the line, the biggest American stars in the sport took a pass. Those who showed up and got the job done should be rewarded. More than a few, I predict, will be.




Since: Jan 3, 2007
Posted on: September 14, 2010 2:36 pm

Odom, Billups deserve to be rewarded

Rondo and I would both like to play - problem is, neither of us is good enough to make the team...

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: September 14, 2010 10:31 am

Odom, Billups deserve to be rewarded

Posters have short memories.  Before you kill the "A-Teamers" for not showing up, remember that Billups declined the LAST TWO international teams because he had personal business to attend to.  And second, even though I H A T E Kobe, he played team ball for the Redeem Team, D-Wade was a defensive stopper (who seemed to shot 10-12 every game), and the "B-Team" would lose to the "A-Team" by 30 points. 

Having said that, I agree that all 12 roster spots should not be automatic for the 2008 team when the roster is made for 2012.  Then again, it may not need to be.  Kidd, Prince, and Redd are not coming back (as stated in the article above).  You also may not see Kobe, especially if the Lakers go deep in the playoffs for the next two seasons.  He cannot play forever, so unless he wants that to be the beginning of his farewell tour, I would be surprised to see Kobe come back.  Throw in an injury or two (hey, I am not wishing it, but these things happen - ask Michael Redd) and I can see the Redeem team only filling out half of the 2012 roster (my guess, Lebron, Wade, Bosh, Amare (if healthy), Paul and Williams.  Add four from this summer, Durant, Rose, maybe Westbrook and Gordon (no, Billups will not come back - too old, and plus, he often finds reasons to not play, and Odom should be tiring of international ball as well as he gets towards the end of his career). and two youngsters (Blake Griffin is possible, especially since the team I outline is relatively small) and John Wall (especially if he walks on water like the media seems to imply). 

At any rate, I wish the USA would have lost.  No, I am not anti-American, I am anti-baseball.  If team USA was playing next summer, would mean 3 less weeks of baseball dominated television and high-lights.  If the NFL locks out, we may be stuck with ONLY baseball.  I think I am going to be sick. 

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: September 14, 2010 2:08 am

Not about reward - its is about team and winning

The missing factor in this discussion is that the USA team is finishing year one in a three year cycle. Billups and Odom are eligible along with the other ten from this World Championship Team (I just love typing World Champion) as is the entire Redeem Team 2008 Olympic Championship Team with each granted excused absences for this World Championship. The selection of the final twelve for the Olympic Games in 2012 should be of the best twelve from that pool of about 25-40 players. That is the established protocol. It would follow that some members pf this 2010 team will earn spots for 2012. In any normal year some of the pool will be unable to compete and perhaps a few substitutes will be added to the pool. As the USA will not compete in the 2011 Olympic Regional Qualifier Pan American Games there will not be opportunity for additional players to play for the tean before the formayion of the 2012 Olympic tean. To state that certain rookies should be granted a spot before they have even played in the NBA seems highly speculative.

A second factor is that historically NBA players, having won an Olympic Gold Medal, usually decline to endure the necessary grind to repeat. This year might be an exception as Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Russia, France and Greece among others will likely return their veteran players and the entire USA Redeem Team have already committed to return. Lets wait to see who is able to honor that committment.

A great strength of the USA program is the return of the USA Senior Team's entire coaching staff (although Mike D'Antoni was granted an excuse this year). This further encourages stability in the team composition as coaches have a body of experience with these players and know who they can use where and whom to trust is certain situations. These coaches have preached and achieved team focus and not individual achievements. It has been about winning and no system of rewards can support a team focus.

A final word on behalf of Andre Igoudala who was responsible for guarding the best scoring wing of each opponent in the 2010 games. Thanks to Andre the USA was able to prevail against Turkey while Ersan İlyasova was held to 7 points, half his average;  against Lithiuania while Linus Kliza was held to 4 points, 17 below his average; against Russia while Serge Monia was held to 5 points, 7 below his average. This is an unselfish player making a difference leading a team defense for a team winning by its defense.

Since: Jun 1, 2007
Posted on: September 13, 2010 8:27 pm

Odom, Billups deserve to be rewarded

I'd love to see the USA team have the courage to send this team to London. It would be a great tribute to the players and a greater message to kids about sportsmanship, which the Olympics is supposed to represent.

Since: Jun 29, 2008
Posted on: September 13, 2010 7:32 pm

Odom, Billups deserve to be rewarded


Since: Jun 7, 2010
Posted on: September 13, 2010 6:46 pm

Odom, Billups deserve to be rewarded

I agree this team needs more for the olympics, but to say Westbrook, Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, Blake Griffin, John Wall, etc.  What have they won or accomplished? John Wall or Blake Griffin have yet to play a game.

The NBA first issue will be to decide who wants to play because it seems that guys who previously won gold medals don't usually defend it. However, with NBA players being younger than in the past that may be possible for them to the olympics mutiple times.

Since: Jun 1, 2009
Posted on: September 13, 2010 6:31 pm

Odom, Billups deserve to be rewarded

Kobe should be included he was the only one that needed surgery this team with Kobe would be all Gold in the Olympics.

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: September 13, 2010 5:37 pm

Odom, Billups deserve to be rewarded

iM FOR HAVING odom not so much billups...Odom is a more of a mismatch because of his versatility..Billups actually struggled during the Fibas...I'd much rather have Rondo, Wall, Rose, Westbrook running the show..

Since: Mar 25, 2008
Posted on: September 13, 2010 3:54 pm

Odom, Billups deserve to be rewarded

Whoever plays on the 2012 Olympic team owes everyone on the so-called "B-team" an all-expenses-paid trip to a nice place in the tropics, at the very least. Not having to go through qualifying next summer is going to save a lot of travel and wear-and-tear for the veterans on the Olympic team.

Since: Apr 9, 2010
Posted on: September 13, 2010 2:46 pm

Odom, Billups deserve to be rewarded

Durant will most definitely be on the team in two years, but I don't know about Lamar and Chauncey. They played well, but all of the other teams also did not quite have their superstars either i.e. Spain and Pau Gasol. We gotta have more height in the Olyimpics so we can't just keep this roster. However, quite a few other guys should be considered for the next roster such as Westbrook, Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, Blake Griffin, John Wall, etc.

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