LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant joined six others from the reigning Olympic champions who are among 27 players on the U.S. national team roster.
The players chosen Wednesday will be candidates for this summer’s world championships and the 2012 Olympics in London.
Also returning from the team that ended the Americans’ eight-year gold medal drought in major competitions are: Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer.
All of the returning players previously told USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo they are interested in coming back after spending all or parts of three years playing for the team that returned the United States to the top of international basketball.
James, Wade and Bosh are all questionable to actually play this summer, though. All three can become free agents and have said their contract situations are their first priority.
“I really think it’s kind of early, but I think guys still want to play,” Anthony said. “Of course we’ll have that conversation in the near future, but they’ve got to take care of what they’ve got to take care of first, which is their contracts and things like that.”
The only players not returning from the team that won gold in Beijing are Jason Kidd, who previously said he was retiring from international competition with a perfect record, and Michael Redd and Tayshaun Prince, who have battled injuries this season.
“Special recognition and acknowledgment needs to go to the nine players returning from our 2008 Olympic team,” Colangelo said in a statement. “They have demonstrated that they are the heart and soul of our program and their commitment to continue to represent their country should not be overlooked.”
The remainder of the roster includes young stars like Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose. Also returning to the national team are Chauncey Billups and Amare Stoudemire, who played on the U.S. team in the 2007 Olympic qualifier.
Stoudemire is perhaps the biggest surprise on the roster. The All-Star forward from Phoenix basically talked himself off the 2008 Olympic team by publicly waffling about his desire to play at the end of the NBA season.
Billups backed up Kidd on the 2007 team that went undefeated in Las Vegas, but he withdrew the next year for family reasons. He may not have made the final 12-man roster anyway, since Paul was back from an injury that sidelined him the previous summer.
Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who played on the 2004 Olympic team, also was chosen Wednesday. The rest of the players are almost entirely young players.
The roster includes: Minnesota’s Al Jefferson and Kevin Love; Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo of Memphis; Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala; Boston’s Kendrick Perkins; Indiana’s Danny Granger; New York’s David Lee; New Jersey center Brook Lopez; Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook; Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge; Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace; and Clippers guard Eric Gordon.
The Americans will choose a group from the roster to take part in their minicamp in Las Vegas in July. They are expected to play an exhibition game in New York before heading to Turkey for the world championships.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski and assistants Jim Boeheim, Mike D’Antoni and Nate McMillan already committed to returning last summer.