Durant, Anthony only Team USA Olympic holdovers

Zika played a role in some decisions
Kevin Durant (5) and Carmelo Anthony, show here against Nigeria at the 2012 London Olympics, are the only Team USA holdovers slated to play at the Rio Games.
Kevin Durant (5) and Carmelo Anthony, show here against Nigeria at the 2012 London Olympics, are the only Team USA holdovers slated to play at the Rio Games.

The months leading up to the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro have been dominated by discussion of the Zika virus and the impact it could have on the Games.

The potential impact on participation for the U.S. men’s basketball team has been a particularly hot topic, as well. Over the past few weeks, the country’s highest-profile entry has been besieged by doubts about whether its best eligible candidates would be willing to brave the presence of the virus — among other issues — to be part of the competition. But while several players wound up deciding to sit out — including LeBron James and Stephen Curry — the roster that was unveiled Monday is still filled with NBA stars, health concerns aside.

“We can try to downplay the Zika thing, but it is what it is,” said New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, one of the leaders of the 12-man roster that was unveiled at the Dunlevy Millbank Center in Harlem on Monday afternoon. “I don’t think anybody has the answers as to how to control that. So all of those things came into play.”

Anthony, who will become the first American male basketball player to participate in four Olympics, will be joined on the team by Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant, the only other player who will return from the U.S. squad that won a gold medal in London in 2012. Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving and Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson also remain from the team that won a gold medal at the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green of the Warriors, Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers and Kyle Lowry of the Raptors round out the roster.

For just about every player who spoke about their decision to play for Team USA this summer, the message was the same: Yes, they are concerned about the Zika virus, and they did extensive research into it. But, in the end, it wasn’t enough to dissuade them from taking part in the competition.

“I really just had to sit down with kind of family, talked to numerous doctors and people that were already over there,” said Anthony, who added his family wouldn’t be making the trip to Brazil. “I talked to people from Brazil, and then I had to really put in perspective from a basketball standpoint whether this is something I really want to do going back four Olympics, having an opportunity to win my third gold medal. All of those things came into play.”

Earlier this year, when the Team USA pool was announced, executive director Jerry Colangelo said that the process of getting from the 30-man pool at the start of the process to the final 12-man roster would take care of itself.

He certainly didn’t mean something like the Zika virus would play a part, but between it, injuries and players — including James — worrying about wear and tear on their bodies, that’s exactly what happened. And while there are several players Colangelo and Coach Mike Krzyzewski would likely prefer to have if they had a choice, there were no complaints from them about a roster featuring nine players from the 2016 NBA All-Star Game.

One player who pointedly said he wasn’t going to let the Zika virus stand in his way was Green, who officially completed a long-stated goal of making Team USA with Monday’s unveiling.

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