SAPPORO, Japan (Aug. 17) - Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) have been named captains of the 2006 USA World Championship Team, USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced today.
"From the very start they have asserted themselves and showed leadership through how hard they worked, their cooperation and the fact that they wanted to be like everyone else. They didn't come in as stars, they came in as members of the team. Everyone looks up to them and they look up to them even more now because they have set such a good example. It was a pretty easy decision to select those three guys.
"It was the coaches' decision. We were thinking of having game captains but it became obvious to us that this was the way to go."
In the USA's five pre-World Championship training exhibition games, the trio ranked as the team's top three scorers. Anthony averaged a team best 16.8 ppg. during the tour, James posted 15.8 ppg., while Wade scored 12.2 ppg. and handed out 4.0 assists.
"We, as in myself, LeBron and Dwyane, are honored. We're experienced, we know what we have to do to succeed. I know it means more responsibilities, so we have to go out there and take care of business on and off the court," said Anthony.
"This means a lot to be captain with two good friends of mine. To not have had the best experience in 2004 and to now be a captain on the 2006 World Championship team, well, this means a lot," stated James. "I'm very excited about being a captain because I am a leader. It's a big responsibility for us three being captains and going out and representing our country in the right way. You've got to show leadership on the court and off the court and you've got to show responsibility. We have to approach the game the right way and take care of business."
"It's great to be captain of such a prestigious USA Basketball team that has a lot of older guys who you respect. To be one of the young guys with LeBron and Carmelo, and for us to be named captains and to help lead the way means a lot to us. Being a captain means being a leader at all times, when things are great and when things are bad - always being a leader," said Wade.
The USA will open FIBA World Championship preliminary play Aug. 19 against Puerto Rico in Sapporo, Japan. Preliminary play continues through Aug. 24, with the U.S. playing five games.
In addition to Anthony, James and Wade, members of the 2006 USA Basketball Men's World Championship Team include: Shane Battier (Houston Rockets); Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors); Elton Brand (Los Angeles Clippers); Kirk Hinrich (Chicago Bulls); Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic); Antawn Jamison (Washington Wizards); Joe Johnson (Atlanta Hawks); Brad Miller (Sacramento Kings); and Chris Paul (New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets).
Assisting Krzyzewski along the U.S. sidelines are Syracuse University (N.Y.) and Hall of Fame mentor Jim Boeheim, Phoenix Suns head mentor Mike D'Antoni and Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan.
The USA team will train on Aug.17 and 18 in Sapporo, Japan, where it will play its preliminary round games of the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Men from Aug. 19-24.
Joining the U.S. in preliminary round Group D is China (Asia Zone champion and ranked #14), Italy (wild card qualifier and ranked #6), Puerto Rico (wild card qualifier and ranked #11), Senegal (Africa Zone runner-up and ranked #30) and Slovenia (European zone sixth place finisher and ranked #22).
The U.S. will open the 2006 Worlds on Aug. 19 against Puerto Rico, a team it is very familiar with. Owning a 7-1 record against Puerto Rico in World Championship play, Puerto Rico stunned the Americans 92-73 in the opening game of the 2004 Olympics.