Kevin Love dropped out of Team USA roster consideration Wednesday, just as Damian Lillard and Demar DeRozan did on Tuesday, as Bradley Beal and Tobias Harris did on Monday, shortly after James Harden and Anthony Davis.
There will be no Steph Curry or LeBron James. No Kawhi Leonard or Paul George. No James Harden or Kyrie Irving or Draymond Green. Zion Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, also sent his regards.
The prestige is gone. Maybe the thrill, too.
With the list of 2019 All-Stars making themselves available down to four – at last check – to represent the Team USA men in the upcoming World Cup, the term “Dream Team” can officially be placed where it should have been since the fall of 1992.
Used on multiple occasions over the quarter-century to describe USA teams in international competition, “Dream Team” may now be forever stored in the warm embrace of sports history, resting alongside such singular identifiers as The Legion of Boom, The Steel Curtain, The Big Red Machine and, of course, Phi Slama Jama.
For when Team USA hopefuls arrive for training camp Aug. 5 in Las Vegas, it will look more like a tryout for the two at-large berths on an NBA All-Star team than a chance to represent the country in the FIBA World Cup in China.
The 2019 All-Stars still available? Kemba Walker, Kyle Lowry, and Khris Middleton. And Lowry is recovering from surgery on his left thumb.
Assuming more players don’t drop out, the hopes of Team USA lie with -- in addition to Lowry, Middleton and Walker -- Andre Drummond, Harrison Barnes, Kyle Kuzma, Paul Millsap, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, Myles Turner, Brook Lopez and PJ Tucker.
All of which has USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo scrambling to find others willing to pursue what generally was thought of as a privilege. Names such as Jaylen Brown, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart and Thaddeus Young came bobbing to the surface. Good young players all, but nobody “dreams” of adding them to an international roster.
If Colangelo and his coaches, led by head coach Gregg Popovich with Steve Kerr among the assistants, work far enough down the list they’ll land upon Carmelo Anthony’s name. Why not?
Most of those who dropped out of running for Team USA are citing a commitment to their NBA teams. That’s a legitimate reason, as if one is needed. Some point to the World Cup schedule, which runs 16 days on the other side of the world before concluding on Sept. 15.
Most simply don’t care to put themselves at risk for what is considered a low-reward endeavor, certainly when compared to the 2020 Olympics, which are only one year away.
Meanwhile, Giannis Antetokounmpo remains committed to play for the Greek national team, making him the first reigning MVP to participate in the FIBA World Cup. Rudy Gobert still plans to represent France. Nikola Jokic still has Serbia’s back.
Canada, with the likes of Jamal Murray, Tristan Thompson, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and R.J. Barrett, won’t blink before any team it faces.
The U.S. will roll some opponents, but there also will be close games and nervous moments. The general buzz will be lower, the names on the marquee dimmer than at any time in 30 years.
With a strong coaching staff and a good roster, Team USA still should have enough to win gold. But a team composed of the Americans not participating would trounce the bunch Popovich will be forced to rely on.
Team USA has a history of great teams, but the only Dream Team was formed in ’92. On the roster: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, John Stockton and Christian Laettner. That’s 11 Hall of Famers, with a truckload of championship jewelry and MVP awards, and one collegian because there was thought to be value in the pretense of amateurism.
There will never be another Dream Team, and the group going to China can only dream of being in the same conversation.