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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Redd Picked for Team USA for Beijing Olympics

Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Redd will be part of the U.S. Olympic basketball team, to be named Monday at a news conference in Chicago.

Olympic and National Basketball Association sources have confirmed that Redd will be named to the 12-man roster for the Beijing Olympics. The 28-year-old Redd has played with the Bucks for his entire career, after being chosen with the 43rd overall pick in the 2000 draft.

Redd earned his Olympic spot with a stellar performance last summer in the FIBA Americas tournament in Las Vegas, as the U.S. team qualified for the 2008 Games. Redd came off the bench to average 14.0 points, the fourth-highest mark on the team, and he shot 53% from the field and 45.3% from three-point range.

Jerry Colangelo, managing director of the U.S. senior national team, was impressed with Redd from their first meeting in 2005, when the Columbus, Ohio, native showed up in his sweats at Colangelo's hotel room and asked where he could change clothes. Redd then emerged in a suit and tie for his interview with Colangelo, who was charged with forming a deep pool of players for the three-year cycle leading up to the Beijing Olympics.

Bucks general manager John Hammond said today he had "no official word yet" but "it sounds like he has a great opportunity to make the team."

"It would be great for the city of Milwaukee, Bucks basketball and Bucks fans to have Michael on the team," Hammond said.

Redd will fill a role as a knockdown, three-point shooter, something the U.S. squad was lacking in the 2004 Olympics and the 2006 World Championships. The U.S. finished third in the Athens Olympics, posting a 5-3 overall record while Argentina won the gold medal.

Redd did not play in 2006 (he was married that summer) as the U.S. went 8-1 in the World Championships, losing in a semifinal game to Greece. But he got his chance in 2007 and immediately bonded with veteran point guard Jason Kidd and shooting guard Kobe Bryant as the U.S. posted an unbeaten record and claimed the gold medal in the FIBA Americas tournament.

Kidd confirmed his participation on the team on Wednesday.

"I have talked to Jerry Colangelo and I think they're announcing that on Monday," Kidd said. "I'm not supposed to say anything, but I talked to Jerry and I'm looking forward to participating. I think everybody who is participating has gotten a phone call in the last couple of days from Jerry Colangelo. I think it is pretty much set."

It is believed the final spot on the roster comes down to a decision between Detroit's Tayshaun Prince and New Orleans' Tyson Chandler. Others expected to be named on Monday are: Bryant, Kidd, Redd, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Earlier this week, Detroit point guard Chauncey Billups withdrew from consideration.

The team will be announced at 10 a.m. Monday at the National Italian Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago, the same place where Colangelo convened a meeting of basketball greats three years ago to discuss the future of the U.S. program.

The Bucks will have three players in the Olympic Games, with Redd being joined by China's Yi Jianlian and Australia's Andrew Bogut.

Hammond said he and Bucks coach Scott Skiles are planning to attend the Beijing Games to show their support for the team's players.

The Cleveland Cavaliers recently denied permission for center Zydrunas Ilgauskas to compete for the Lithuanian team in the Olympics, citing injury concerns.

"Of course you'd be concerned for the health and well-being of your players, but we're not in the same position as some other teams," Hammond said. "You have a healthy Mike Redd, and you have two younger pieces in Andrew and Yi, who can physically take the wear and tear of the Summer Olympics and be ready to go 100% once the season starts."

Despite the differences in rules between the NBA game and international brand of basketball, Hammond said the experience can benefit the Bucks players.

"I really believe this, anytime you're on the floor with the ball in your hand - whether an individual workout, team practice or game situation - and with something with the magnitude of playing for an Olympic team, it can only help you improve as a player," Hammond said.

The members of the U.S. team will participate in a mini-camp in Las Vegas on June 27-29. The team will reconvene in Las Vegas from July 20-25 and will play the Canadian national team on July 25 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The U.S. team will play tune-up games against Russia and Australia in Shanghai in early August and will open Olympic play on Aug. 10 against host China at the 18,000-seat Wukesong Indoor Stadium in Beijing.

Story from Charles Gardner, Bucks Blog JSOnline

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