Jim Slater of Yahoo wrote:
When it comes to medals, a bronze won't be good enough this time for Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James and his teammates on the US Olympic squad of National Basketball Association stars.
The Americans had lost only twice in Olympic history, and never with an NBA lineup, until 2004 in Athens where they were beaten three times and settled for a bronze medal. James spent most of his time watching from the bench.
That disappointment led USA Basketball to elicit a three-year commitment from players that began with the 2006 World Championships, where James played a key role on a US team that lost a semi-final to Greece and settled for third.
Now the Beijing Olympics offer US NBA stars a chance at vindication and the opportunity to reclaim their global supremacy.
"We will be Olympic champions this year," James said at the NBA All-Star Game. "I'm excited. We have a talented team that works hard."
James, this year's NBA scoring champion, has been joined by Miami's Dwyane Wade and Denver's Carmelo Anthony as a captain under the guidance of coach Mike Krzyzewski, the long-time Duke University mentor.
James, Anthony and Wade were all members of the 2004 US Olympic team but spent most of their time on the bench.
"Four years ago, I wasn't put in the position I could care. I didn't get to go out and play the way I could," James said. "This time I'm a captain and I know we are going to be a very tough team to beat."
With such stars as Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player, adding scoring punch, the Americans figure to be formidable once more.
"We have guys who don't want to lose - Kobe, Carmelo, Dwyane Wade - and the guys off the bench are very good," James said.
"We've got so many great players and a great coach in Coach K who allows us to do what we want to do as long as we don't let things get out of hand."
James, who stands 2.03m and 113kg, has been a US star since his high school games were shown on national television. James was taken first overall in the 2003 NBA Draft at age 18 by the Cavaliers, who counted on a kid from nearby Akron to lift them into contention.
The flamboyant playmaker did not disappoint.
James has career averages of 27.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.6 assists in 391 NBA games. The 23-year-old small forward, a four-time NBA All-Star, was the 2004 NBA Rookie of the Year and MVP of the 2006 and 2008 NBA All-Star Games.
The biggest night for James came last year in game five of the NBA Eastern Conference finals, when he scored 48 points to lead a double-overtime Cleveland victory. He scored 29 of the Cavaliers' last 30 points, including the final 25.
Cleveland reached the NBA Finals only to be swept by San Antonio, but James has become the NBA's biggest star showman since Michael Jordan with high-flying dunks and spectacular mid-air moves.
James won his first NBA scoring title this season with 30 points a game and added a career-high 7.9 points and 7.2 assists a game. The only other players with numbers so high in a season were Jordan and Oscar Robertson.
James played only 14.6 minutes at Athens, producing just 5.8 points and 2.6 rebounds. At the 2006 worlds, James averaged 13.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists but the Americans finished behind world champion Spain and Greece.
In last year's FIBA Americas qualifying event in Las Vegas, James averaged 18.1 points, 4.7 assists and 3.6 rebounds and the US team twice beat Argentina, which will defend the gold.
"It's going to be competitive with us, Argentina and Spain," James said. "It's going to be tough."