Kobe vs. Wade: One should go
Maybe it's just me, but will Team USA really need Dwyane Wade if Kobe Bryant plays in the Olympics? Or will it really need Bryant with Wade, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James already on the team?
Now, hold the angry e-mails. Understand that I truly believe you can love Kobe without hating Dwyane, and vice-versa. And this has nothing to do with me favoring one player over the other. When it comes to building an NBA team, you can't go wrong either way. If nothing else, both Bryant and Wade know how to win a championship when playing next to Shaquille O'Neal.
But when it comes to Team USA, three 20-point scorers are all that's needed. Today, those three are James, Anthony and Wade, as Bryant is recovering from a knee injury and will miss the world championships. But assuming this U.S. team stays together for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China ... well, three's a crowd and four is a horde. And could Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski really ask FOUR guys to abondon their star power for the good of the team? Eventually, somebody's gonna say no.
Granted, having NBA players in the Olympics is still mostly about marketing, and neither Bryant nor Wade is likely to be cut. Instead, a role player like Shane Battier or Joe Johnson will be let go when Bryant can play.
But that would be a mistake. We've already seen what the U.S. has done with a bunch of guys who can score. It's become pretty clear that in order to have international success, all you need is 12 guys who play hard and play together. Just ask Puerto Rico, which embarrassed the U.S. in the previous Olympics behind none other than Carlos Arroyo, who's not exactly a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame.
Can the U.S. win a gold medal with both Bryant and Wade playing alongside James and Anthony? Absolutely.
But it might be more difficult than you think. And that is why the U.S. should adhere to the following motto: When four guys need the ball, you may be headed for a fall. Bryant learned that the hard way as a member of a Lakers team that also featured O'Neal, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton a few years back.
The real question is, who do you pick to be cut: Bryant or Wade? I sure don't want to make that call.