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Olympic Basketball Has Plenty of New York Flavor

New York City is well represented on the U.S. basketball team



    Olympic Basketball Has Plenty of New York Flavor
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    Melo's next mission is about to begin.

    The last few weeks have been filled with a lot of news about the Knicks and the Nets.

    Some of it is good, some of it is bad and all of it is concerned with trying to do something that felt almost impossible when last season came to an end. Beating a team with LeBron James playing on it is the new unclimbable mountain in the NBA and neither of our local sides appear to be close to breaking new ground. 

    Winning alongside James, though? That's something we can handle.

    Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Deron Williams all traveled to London to join up with James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant in an attempt to win a gold medal. Anthony and Williams are trying for their second straight gold after contributing to the win in Beijing while Chandler is reaping the rewards of Dwight Howard's absence and his own rise to the top of the NBA food chain over the last two years.

    Chandler appears to be an ideal fit for this team, which is long on athleticism and short on size. His ability to block shots and rebound at both ends should spark a lot of easy baskets for the Americans.

    Because Chandler is the only center on the U.S. team, you'll get to see a lot of Anthony in the offensive post role he played to great acclaim while Amar'e Stoudemire was out down the stretch last season. Enjoy it, but don't get too used to it.

    Williams will probably take a secondary role to Paul, but that athletic, transition game will make him look awfully good as pass after pass results in a dunk. And should the locals be on the bench, feel free to marvel at the free-flowing things the U.S. could do by putting Paul, James, Durant, Andre Iguodala and Kevin Love on the floor together.

    There's been a lot of talk about whether or not this team could beat the 1992 Dream Team, a fun enough exercise to pass idle time before games but one that grows tiresome quickly. We're close enough to the start of the Olympics to look at the actual opposition that will try to stop the U.S. from winning the tournament. 

    SPAIN: Everybody's favorite to be in the gold medal game against the U.S. because of their depth and some people's choice to knock off the U.S. because of their size. Pau and Mark Gasol will start up front with Serge Ibaka in reserve to give Spain the kind of length that could challenge the Americans.

    Their chances of hanging athletically would be a bit better if Ricky Rubio were able to play. There are plenty of guards with NBA experience -- Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez, Juan Carlos Navarro -- but none with skills quite as sublime as Rubio.

    ARGENTINA: Come for a sneak peek at new Knicks point guard Pablo Prigioni, stay to watch the last hurrah for the Manu Ginobili-led thirtysomethings looking to use experience to their advantage. They don't seem to have enough horses to stick with either the U.S. or Spain, but that experience can be a big plus when facing a hastily thrown together team.

    FRANCE: Tony Parker survived being collateral damage in the Chris Brown-Drake bottle fight, so he will be leading a French team that will really miss Joakim Noah. The Spurs will be happy with any outcome because Parker will be teammates with Nando De Colo, who will be following Parker to San Antonio for the next NBA season. 

    BRAZIL: Point guard Marcelinho Huertas played very well in an exhibition against the U.S. and Brazil's trio of NBA big men -- Nene, Tiago Splitter and Anderson Varejao -- should give the Americans fits on the glass. Brazil isn't deep enough to hold up under U.S. pressure for an entire game, though, and it would take a fairly miraculous performance to come away with a win. 

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

    London 2012 is right around the corner. Get the top Olympic news, including what to watch, results and features on our local athletes here.