NBA SUPERSTAR LeBron James has hailed the United States’ current side as stronger than the team they took to Beijing four years ago.
The Americans are very short favourites to win gold for the fifth time in the past six Olympics at the London Games — with the men’s basketball team only failing to pick up a medal in the event once in 17 Olympics, with 13 of those medals gold.
And James said he expects that dominant run to continue, as he feels the side that beat Spain 118-107 in the gold medal match in China four years ago, has changed for the better.
“We’re a different team (to the Beijing squad), we’re much faster. We’re a little bit more experienced. We’re a little older and experienced but I think our team is very good,” the Miami Heat star said. ”We have some things that we didn’t have in ’08 and it’s going to work to our benefit.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great opportunity for us and I can’t wait for the games to start.”
James’ national team-mate and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant said he was hoping the US’ presence at the Olympics could boost basketball’s popularity in the United Kingdom.
“We’re always about trying to expand and grow the game, trying to show the world what a great game basketball is and how much fun you can have while playing it,” Bryant said. ”It’s two countries playing against each other (the USA and Great Britain) and hopefully have a pretty good crowd here we can do that.”
Kevin Love — who plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA — said he was aware his nation were the hunted on court.
“It’s a lot of pressure but mostly these guys are used to it, they’re ready to get moving to get going but I think a lot of these friendly games will lead up to us having a lot of success but we definitely have the bullseye on our back and a lot of people are coming for us,” Love said.