Nets forward had sights on '08 Olympics, but reached goal early
Jefferson Ahead of Schedule

By Rob Peterson

Aug. 3 -- Richard Jefferson always saw himself reaching the Olympics. He just didn't think it would be this soon, as the Nets forward had his sights on the China Games in 2008. Jefferson talked to about reaching the Olympics early, and what he's most looking forward to about the games.

Jefferson played for Larry Brown last summer in Puerto Rico.
(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE)
How does it feel to be an Olympian?
Jefferson: "It's cool. Not even so much with our team, which is unbelievable. But if you want to look at the larger aspect -- all the gymnasts, the track and field, everybody -- will be a part of the U.S.A. for this Olympics. From Marion Jones to (everybody) else, it's amazing to be a part of that group."

Is there any part that you're most looking forward to
Jefferson: "The opening ceremonies and trying to win a gold medal. Obviously, we're favored to win, but people have their doubts about our team because we are young and inexperienced. But I believe we're the most talented, it's just a matter of us coming together."

Is there anyone on the team you're most looking forward to sharing the court with?
Jefferson: "I wouldn't say, 'Not really,' but I think we've played against the other guys enough. LeBron, who I know. We've done some shoots together. He's a nice kid. So, I'm just looking forward to the whole experience."

What do you know about Coach Brown?
Jefferson: "Just the same thing he gave us last year (in Puerto Rico). You're going to learn a lot. You're going to be a part of a team. That's his whole thing. He's going to try to turn an All-Star team into a team. He doesn't want an All-Star team. He wants a group of individuals that plays well together, that plays hard, that plays defense and understands the game."

When you were growing up, did you see yourself as an Olympian?
Jefferson: "Yeah, yeah I did. Everybody watched that '92 Dream Team. When I got here, it was kind of like 'Hey, 2008, I'll be in my prime, it'll be in China.' That was honestly my goal is continue to work. Apparently, I'm a little ahead of schedule. Things happened quickly. They invited me last summer and they said there would be a chance that I could do it again. And I'm very excited."

Do you have any favorite memories from those past Olympics?
Jefferson: "I was like every kid. I used to watch the track and field. I used to watch the gymnastics. Of course, the first Dream Team. Everyone has Olympic memories."