by Conrad Brunner
April 29, 2003
Colorodo Springs, CO
-- Adding offensive firepower in
a big way to its 2003 USA Men’s Senior National Team, USA Basketball
officially announced today that NBA All-Stars Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles
Lakers), MVP of the 2002 NBA All-Star Game and a three-time member of the
NBA champion Lakers, Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers), 2001 MVP of the
NBA, and Jermaine O’Neal (Indiana Pacers), winner of the NBA’s Most
Improved Player Award in 2002, have been added to its Senior National Team.
The player selections were made by the USA Basketball Senior National Team
"It's a great honor and I'm very appreciative that I've been selected for
this team," said O'Neal. "In my mind, I feel I have some unfinished business as an
individual and we as a team have some unfinished business after our
disappointing showing in the World Championship. To represent the United
States in international competition is special recognition that not many
players receive and I am really looking forward to this summer and 2004 in
helping USA Basketball regain its status in international basketball.”
The Senior Committee has now named nine “core group” players to the
12-member 2003 USA Basketball Senior National Team. The USA roster will be
finalized later this spring with the naming of the final three “role
The 2003 USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team will participate in the
2003 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament that will be held Aug.
20-31, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“They have paid their dues in our league and have made unbelievable
contributions to their teams. It is a great honor for them, and I am happy
for all three of them,” said Philadelphia 76ers head coach Larry Brown who
was named on Nov. 26 as the USA’s head mentor.
“From a personal standpoint, I am thrilled to death (about Iverson’s
selection). It just shows the respect that everyone in the league has for
Allen and what he has done. He has made unbelievable contributions to our
game. This is the culmination of a career that has gotten better every
year, and he continues to learn the game and get better.
“Kobe has had a remarkable career. He has won three championships so
quickly. He is as good of an all around player that we have in our league.
I hope this is one of many opportunities he gets to represent his county in
this way because he is what our Olympic team is all about,” continued
“Jermaine has gotten better every year. He is one of the main reasons
Indiana has been an improving team. He is one of the best young players in
our league,” stated Brown.
“These three additions to the 2003 Senior National Team round out one of
the finest teams we have ever assembled,” said USA Basketball President Tom
Jernstedt. “We are thrilled by the interest shown by these exceptional
players. We now have nine team members who have made the commitment to
play for USA Basketball over the next two summers. We look forward to this
group representing the United States in a manner that will make all
“At this point, we are extremely pleased with the core group of players who
are committed to represent USA Basketball during the next two summers. We
have assembled some of the very best players on the planet in anticipation
of recapturing the gold medal in international competition. Our next
objective is to complete the team with three additional players, who will
gain valuable experience by representing the U.S. in this summer's
qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico,” stated Stu Jackson, Chair of the USA
Basketball Men’s Senior National Team Committee.
USA Basketball previously announced that Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers
would serve as head coach of the USA senior team, and named as his
assistant coaches were San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich,
recently hired Clemson University (S.C.) head mentor Oliver Purnell, and
recently named University of North Carolina head coach Roy Williams.
USA Basketball had also previously announced six members of the 2003 senior
squad including: two-time Olympic gold medalist and 18-year NBA star Karl
Malone (Utah Jazz); 2000 Olympic gold medalists Ray Allen (Seattle
SuperSonics) and Jason Kidd (New Jersey Nets); Tim Duncan (San Antonio
Spurs), the NBA’s 2002 Most Valuable Player; Tracy McGrady (Orlando Magic),
the NBA’s leading scorer in 2002-03 season and the NBA’s 2001 Most Improved
Player, and rising NBA star Mike Bibby (Sacramento Kings), who led the
Kings to the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals.
The three-some of Bryant, Iverson and O’Neal add considerable scoring punch
to the USA team. Bryant, who on March 5, 2003, reached 10,000 points for
his career, making him the youngest player (24 years, 193 days) in NBA
history to reach that plateau, finished second in this year’s NBA regular
season scoring race averaging 30.0 ppg. Iverson, who has captured three
NBA scoring titles (1999, 2001, 2002) in his seven seasons, ranked third at
27.6 ppg., and O’Neal finished 19th averaging 20.8 ppg. Five of the nine
players now named to the USA team finished among the top 10 scorers for the
2002-03 NBA season, and seven ranked among the top 21. McGrady led the NBA
in scoring (32.1 ppg.), followed by No. 2 Bryant, No. 3 Iverson, No. 7 Tim
Duncan (23.3 ppg.), and No. 10 Ray Allen (22.5), while O’Neal ranked No.
19, Malone was No. 21 (20.6 ppg.), Kidd ranked No. 31 (18.7 ppg.), and
Bibby, who averaged 15.9 ppg., did not meet minimum requirement but if he
had, he would have ranked tied for 45th in scoring.
Iverson and O’Neal have previously worn USA Basketball’s red, white and
blue uniforms. Seven of the nine selected players boast of previous USA
Basketball playing experience.
Iverson, while starring at Georgetown University (DC), was a member of USA
Basketball’s memorable 1995 World University Games Team that finished a
perfect 7-0 and captured gold in Fukuoka, Japan. Part of a talented team
that included future NBAers Allen, Duncan, Kerry Kittles, Othella
Harrington, Austin Croshere and others, Iverson led the USA squad in
scoring, assists and steals. Iverson averaged 16.7 points, 6.1 assists and
2.9 steals a game, while shooting 56.0 percent from the field overall and
37.5 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
O’Neal will be representing the United States for the third consecutive
summer and for the fourth time in his career. A member of the 2002 USA
World Championship Team, O’Neal played in eight of the USA’s nine games,
starting five times, and averaged 7.3 ppg., 4.5 rpg. and 1.8 blocked shots
a game, while shooting 51.0 percent from the floor. Also a member of the
2001 USA Goodwill Games Team that captured gold with a 5-0 record, he
posted impressive averages of 13.2 ppg., 7.2 rpg. and 3.2 bpg., while
hitting 68.3 percent of his shots overall. As a high school senior, O’Neal
was a member of the USA Junior Select Team that participated in the 1996
Hoop Summit Game and accounted for USA highs of 21 points, 10 rebounds and
seven blocked shots while playing 27 minutes.
“We welcome Jermaine back to another USA Basketball team, his third
consecutive year of representing the United States in international
basketball competition," said Stu Jackson, the chairman of the selection committee. "Jermaine is a terrific addition to our frontcourt from both an offensive and defensive standpoint. He gives us another
low-post offensive scorer and an additional shot blocker, which is crucial
in the international game.”
Bryant is the fourth named USA Senior National Team player (joining Duncan,
Kidd and McGrady) who earned All-NBA First Team honors in 2001-02. Bryant
has also collected All-NBA Second Team honors in 2001 and 2000, and was a
Third Team choice in 1999. Bryant additionally has earned NBA
All-Defensive honors three times having been named First Team in 2000 and
Second Team in 2001 and 2002.
Iverson is a two-time All-NBA First Team selection (1999 and 2001), and a
two-time All-NBA Second Team choice (2000 and 2002). In addition, Iverson
garnered NBA Most Valuable Player honors in 2001 and was Rookie of the Year
O’Neal, collected his first All-NBA honors in 2002 when he was named Third
Team and was also tagged as the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2002.
Between Bryant, Iverson and O’Neal, the trio have appeared in 11 NBA
All-Star Games and twice earned MVP honors of the mid-season classic.
Bryant, a five-time All-Star, accounted for 22 points in the 2003 NBA
All-Star Game and was named MVP of the 2002 game after tallying 31 points,
five rebounds and five assists. Iverson, who poured in 35 points and added
seven assists and five steals in the 2003 All-Star classic, has been
selected for four All-Star Games and earned MVP honors in the 2001 Game
after posting 25 points, five assists, four steals and two rebounds in 27
minutes. O’Neal has now earned All-Star honors in back-to-back seasons,
accounting for 10 points and East Team highs of 10 rebounds and four
blocked shots in the 2003 outing.
All three players completed impressive seasons in 2002-03, and each led
their team into the Playoffs.
Bryant in 2002-03 finished ranked first in the NBA in field goals made
(868), second in field goals attempted (1924), second in minutes played
(3401), second in free throws made (601), fourth in minutes averaged (41.5
mpg.), fifth in free throws attempted (713), fifth in efficiency ranking
(28.02), sixth in steals (2.21 spg.), 14th in assists (5.9 apg.), 18th in
3-point field goals made (124), 25th in free throw percentage (.843) and
27th in 3-point percentage (.383).
Likewise, Iverson is found ranked among NBA leaders in numerous statistical
categories. He finished the 2003 regular season standing first in the NBA
in steals (2.74 spg.), first in field goals attempted (1940), first in
minutes played (3485) and minutes played per game (42.5 mpg.), second in
free throws attempted (736), third in field goals made (804), fourth in
free throws made (570), 18th in assists (5.5 apg.) and 19th in efficiency
O’Neal is also listed among NBA statistical leaders in several categories.
He concluded 2002-03 ranked fourth in rebounds (10.3 rpg.), sixth in
defensive rebounds (7.7 per game), sixth in double-doubles (43), seventh in
blocks shots (2.31 bpg.), 10th in efficiency ranking (23.74), 15th in free
throws attempted (510), 18th in field goal percentage (.484) and 18th in
field goals made (610).