Since 2006, USA Basketball’s men’s national team has found a summer home in Las Vegas. But when the organization unveiled plans a couple of years ago to build a new headquarters in Tempe, Ariz., the fear was the move from Colorado Springs, Colo., to Tempe also would mean saying goodbye to Las Vegas.
They tend to live in the moment around USA Basketball. Never reacting much to the past, rarely predicting the future. They also don’t seem to hold grudges. At least not against one of the world’s best players.
UNLV basketball coach Dave Rice spoke from a hallway adjacent to the Mendenhall Center’s practice courts, several of his players gathering inside that doorway as the likes of James Harden and Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul competed in drills. They watched every dribble, soaked in every pass.
It was the summer of 1992, and Tom Thibodeau was trying to work his way up in the NBA. He had spent the prior season serving as an advance scout for the Seattle SuperSonics. Now, he was in San Antonio as an assistant for Jerry Tarkanian, who at age 62 was a rookie head coach with the Spurs.
LeBron James showed up Wednesday, practiced with the rest of the USA Basketball men’s national team and left the Las Vegas minicamp later in the evening, his commitment to Team USA for the summer having been fulfilled.
Thirty four of the world’s top NBA players returned to Las Vegas this week for the USA National Team’s minicamp from August 11 to 13.
When USA Basketball finalizes its roster for next summer’s Olympics in Brazil, there will be no shortage of players who can score. But there will be a need for someone who can rebound and defend, someone who can make a play that may not necessarily show up on the score sheet. Is Draymond Green that someone?
The men’s national team will train at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center from July 27-31 and play an intrasquad game at the Thomas & Mack Center Aug. 1 as it prepares to participate in the FIBA World Cup basketball tournament in Spain at the end of August.
The 28 invitees to USA Basketball’s Las Vegas minicamp can rest easy, knowing nobody is going to be cut this week. But they also know the window to make a positive impression is small.
Last time, it was pizza in a Chicago hotel lobby that convinced him to come back. This time, it was pasta in a Las Vegas restaurant.