: His age forces Team USA to carry three point guards.
His age, all by itself, brings up Team USA’s average nearly a year, and his age, 35, is 14 years higher than one of his teammates’.
"Kobe’s old, too," Jason Kidd said, protesting his rank as USA Basketball’s way elder statesmen. "Just ask Kobe if he iced today."
To which the almost-30 Kobe Bryant shot back: "Jason needs ice baths."
Creaky joints, cold therapy, all of it was pronounced totally worth it when Team USA debuted its new uniforms Monday and then gathered at the Plaza Hotel for a meet-and-greet. Sure Kidd’s exactly five years and five months older than the team’s next-oldest (Bryant), but in Kidd, the U.S. gets a point guard who’s a perfect 38-0 in international games, won a gold medal in 2000 in Sydney and keeps the focus even as, Michael Redd said, "We kill him."
This group of 12 of the NBA’s brightest does indeed razz, and so obviously, Kidd said, his age comes up "all the time." And yet, after an embarrassing 2004 Olympics, when Kidd was named one of nine "core" players then left home with a knee injury, and the U.S. managed only a bronze, the one-time Net’s presence has been openly appreciated as well.
Team architect Jerry Colangelo said "he’s everything you want in a leader," Chris Paul said he and Deron Williams "are learning so much from him," and Williams - who calls Kidd "Pops" - rattled off Kidd’s USA Basketball stats without any hesitation.
The stats aren’t of course the key for the triple-double machine with this team. He took just 10 shots in 10 games during Olympic qualifying last summer, but with an assist-to-turnover ration of 9.20, 3.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.3 steals per game, he led the team to a 39.5 average margin of victory for Team MVP honors.
"That," Dwyane Wade said, "just shows his greatness."
PERFECT HOST: With the Chinese opening their Games against the favorite Americans on Aug. 10, a television reporter from Shanghai asked Bryant if he had any tips for his host.
"You want me to make suggestions?" he asked with mock incredulity. "Don’t play Yao, don’t play Yi. That’s a great suggestion."