Team USA Rumors
So one day, in Toronto, where he had gathered then-rookie Mo Peterson and a few other teammates after practice, Carter got a ball, lined up his tall teammates and tried to jump over them as he did so easily over 7-foot-2 France center Frédéric Weis in Sydney. He’d try it again and again — each time with a different result than the original. “We’d mess around in practice, and I’d try to jump over them,” Carter said. “I’d trip over guys or fall. “I just could never do it the same.” In fact, he never did it again, and in the 15 years since, neither has anybody else.
The dunk sequence began when Payton drove and missed a contested layup with 16 minutes, 8 seconds left and Team USA ahead by 15. Vin Baker missed the putback attempt as Garnett and Allen retreated in transition defense. France grabbed the loose ball near the free throw line. But Carter lunged on the left wing to steal France forward Yann Bonato’s errant behind-the-back outlet pass. Carter then eyed the rim and sized up a slow-reacting Weis, France’s last line of defense in the lane. Frédéric Weis, France national team center 2000-07: I don’t remember anything. I had my eyes closed [laughs]. I wouldn’t move, for sure. Vince Carter: I knew I was in position to jump the pass and get the steal. Once I got it, it was one, two … and that’s it. There it was. So I get the steal. I remember taking the first dribble and the second dribble, just trying to gauge what [Weis] was going to do.
‘They’re like Argentina in that their golden generation’s window is closing,” international basketball expert and ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla told me. “This team rode the back of a 35-year-old player who in Pau Gasol still has great heart and very good ability. But this is not the same team that challenged the USA for a period of three or four years. I don’t think they will go into 2016 – even though Marc Gasol and Ricky Rubio will be back and potentially Serge Ibaka – as the same threat they were for a period of about four years. But they are the most likely team to knock off the USA in Brazil.”
“While we sometimes automatically say the world has grown closer to catching up to the USA, the truth is, country by country, there’s a bigger gap than ever,” Fraschilla said. “There are quality NBA players among international players, but there are also more quality American players in the NBA who are now in the USA Basketball pool. “Argentina and Spain and the rest of the world for that matter don’t have the depth of talent pools that will be able to – in the next four-year cycle – consistently compete with the USA. Now, it doesn’t mean the USA can’t get beat at some point. But it’s less likely than it was say back in 2004 and 2006.”
Colangelo said he received e-mails and text messages from Team USA players thanking him for the August camp in Las Vegas. “What we’re experiencing is something very, very special,” Colangelo said. “It’s a good position to be in, but there’s a responsibility to maintain and keep it going in the right direction. For now, things couldn’t be better. We’re in a countdown and the variable for us will be before the selection process — we hope and pray there aren’t injuries to take people out of it automatically. “These guys all want to be a part of it and they understand there’s going to be a certain amount of turnover each competition. It’s a very elite group who eventually gets selected.”
“We are going to select our 12 members of the squad probably in June, before we even go to camp. We don’t want players to feel embarrassed that they were cut or weren’t one of the final selections. “Some guys have said to me, ‘What do I have to do to make this team?’ I said, ‘All you’ve got to do is have the best year you’ve ever had with your team. That’s what you need to do.’ So it’s incentive for all the players on our national team roster to have great years. That’s good for the [NBA].”
“I’ll be out of the picture,” said Wall through a laugh and without any noticeable trace of resentment.