BARCELONA, Spain — Nobody remembers whose idea it was, or when it was first mentioned. A couple players just assumed it was the plan all along.
Memories may fade after four years, but these friendships haven’t, nor has the desire to spend another summer together.
Sometime during the 2008 Olympics, even before the U.S. men’s basketball team won the gold medal, the core players decided they would be coming back in 2012. LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Deron Williams love playing together on the court and hanging out off it, and once one of them decided he was going back, that meant they all had to go back.
So they flew to London on Thursday, along with fellow remaining ’08 holdover Kobe Bryant, returning to the Olympics for a country that only eight years ago had fallen so far it couldn’t find guys who wanted to play once, let alone multiple times.
“These are guys I talk to just about every day,” Paul said, with Dwyane Wade also included in that group. “I knew Bron wanted to do it. D-Wade wanted to do it, but his injury set him back. I knew Melo was in, so we’ve got one of those things where regardless what anybody says, once one or two of us commit to something, we’re all in.”
That sounds good during the fun times, but things change in four years. Bryant is the only one of the five who even plays for the same NBA team he did in ’08, with James leaving Cleveland for Miami, Paul and Anthony forcing their way to bigger markets, and Utah trading Williams in case he decided to do the same thing.
“In the locker room after the game when we won the gold medal, there was a euphoric feeling,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “So sometimes when you have that euphoric feeling, you say things at that moment that you’re not necessarily thinking about four years later.”