Men's Basketball Preview
Extending the USA’s dominance in Olympic men’s basketball will not be an easy task at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, now scheduled for 2021, as basketball has truly grown into a global sport and standout professional players from around the world are abundant in the NBA and FIBA competitions.  

The U.S. men have won six of the past seven Olympic gold medals, including three consecutively. Men’s Olympic basketball has been played since 1936, when the U.S. claimed the first of seven straight gold medals. In all, the U.S. men have earned a record 15 gold medals, one silver and two bronze medals in Olympic play. The U.S. men’s all-time win-loss record at the Olympic Games is a gaudy 138-5 and they take a 25-0 winning streak into the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The U.S. list of Olympic finalists for the men’s team was announced in February 2020 and features 44 NBA standouts. The official Olympic roster will be comprised of 12 players and is expected to be announced in late spring 2021.

Headlining the list of candidates for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team is three-time Olympic medalist LeBron James and two-time Olympic gold medalists Kevin Durant and Chris Paul. A fourth Olympic appearances would tie James with Carmelo Anthony for the most by any U.S. male basketball player. Durant (2012 and 2016) and Paul (2008 and 2012) are seeking to become three-time Olympians and join Anthony, James and David Robinson (1988, 1992 and 1996) as the USA’s only three-time U.S. Olympic male basketball players.

The finalists include nine members of the gold medalist 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, seven gold medalists from the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team and all 12 members of the USA’s 2019 FIBA World Cup Team. All told, the list of finalists includes 29 players who have played for Team USA in Olympic and/or FIBA World Cup competitions and who together have collected 31 Olympic or FIBA Basketball World Cup gold medals and four bronze medals.

After seeing Duke University’s Mike Krzyzewski lead the U.S. Olympic squads to gold in 2008, 2012 and 2016, it will be five-time NBA champion and longtime San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich directing the U.S. men’s team next year. Assisting Popovich on the USA bench will be Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce and Villanova University head coach Jay Wright.

The Olympic men’s basketball tournament will consist of 12 nations. In addition to host Japan, nations qualified for the men's basketball competition at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 include Argentina, Australia, France, Iran, Nigeria, Spain, and the USA. Four additional teams will qualify through FIBA's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments. The four men's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, taking place from June 22-July 4, 2021, will be played in Canada, Croatia, Lithuania and Serbia. The winners of each of the four tournaments will qualify for Tokyo 2020.

Updated on July 20, 2020. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

New Coach Leads the Way: Gregg Popovich, who was named a finalist and was among 66 players invited by the U.S. Olympic Basketball Games Committee to try out for the 1972 U.S. Olympic Basketball Team, will lead the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team. Now in his 24th season (1996-97 through 2019-20) as head coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, Popovich currently stands as the longest tenured active coach in both the NBA and in all U.S. major sports leagues. He ranks first all-time among NBA coaches for the most consecutive winning regular seasons with 22. Popovich has led San Antonio Spurs teams to five NBA championships (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014) and lists as one of just five coaches in NBA history to win five or more NBA titles. 

Completing the 2018-19 season owning a sterling 1,245-575 (.684 winning percentage) all-time regular season record, his .684 winning percentage ranks third in NBA history trailing only Jackson (.704) and Billy Cunningham (.698). He is one of nine coaches in NBA history to have won 1,000 NBA games, has won more games than any active NBA coach and his 1,245 wins with one team ranks as the most all-time in NBA history. He also owns a 170-114 record (.599 winning percentage) in NBA playoffs and ranks third all-time for playoff wins behind Jackson and Pat Riley, and owns the third-best playoff career winning percentage in NBA history.

Colangelo’s Revitalization: Jerry Colangelo’s involvement with USA Basketball began on April 27, 2005, when he was announced as the managing director of the then newly organized U.S. Men’s Senior National Basketball Team program – taking control of a national team program that hadn’t won a major international competition since 2000. Obtaining the involvement of the NBA’s top players and securing the involvement of some of basketball’s most respected coaches, Colangelo confidently rebuilt the program from the bottom up. Since Colangelo took charge of the national team, the USA men have compiled a remarkable 97-4 overall record (66-3 in official FIBA or FIBA Americas competitions and 31-1 record in exhibition games) and claimed top honors in six of eight FIBA or FIBA Americas competitions. Under Colangelo, the USA men have claimed gold medal finishes at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship, Olympic Games Beijing 2008, 2010 FIBA World Championship, Olympic Games London 2012, 2014 FIBA World Cup and Olympic Games Rio 2016. During his first term as managing director, the national team program compiled a striking 36-1 overall win-loss record, and just as importantly re-established the USA team as positive ambassadors for the United States and the sport.

USA Basketball’s list of finalists for the Olympic roster is literally a who’s who of basketball. Finalists include NBA MVPs James Harden (2018), Russell Westbrook (2017), Stephen Curry (2015 and 2016), Kevin Durant (2014) and LeBron James (2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013), and NBA Finals MVPs Kawhi Leonard (2014 and 2019), Durant (2017 and 2018) and James (2012, 2013 and 2016).

Four-time NBA MVP and three-time NBA Finals MVP LeBron James is a three-time Olympic medalist (2004 bronze and 2008 and 2012 gold) who is attempting to make a historic fourth U.S. Olympic men’s team. A fourth Olympic appearances would tie James with Carmelo Anthony for the most by any U.S. male basketball player. Kevin Durant (2012 and 2016) and Chris Paul (2008 and 2012) are seeking to become three-time Olympians and join Anthony, James and David Robinson (1988, 1992 and 1996) as the USA’s only three-time U.S. Olympic male basketball players.

Nine players from the gold medal winning 2016 U.S. Olympic team that went 8-0 in Rio remain in contention for the 2020 U.S. Olympic squad, including Harrison Barnes, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, Durant, Paul George, Draymond Green, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry and Klay Thompson. Anthony Davis, Durant, James Harden, James, Kevin Love, Paul and Russell Westbrook were members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team that compiled an unblemished record of 8-0 and captured gold in London, while Dwight Howard, James and Paul were gold medalists with the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. Additionally, James earned a bronze medal at the 2004 Games in Athens.

All 12 members of the 2019 US World Cup Team are finalists and include Harrison Barnes, Jaylen Brown, Joe Harris, Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton, Donovan Mitchell, Mason Plumlee, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Myles Turner, Kemba Walker and Derrick White. Eight members of the 2014 US World Cup Team that finished 9-0 and captured gold in Spain are among the finalists including, including Stephen Curry, Davis, DeRozan, Andre Drummond, Harden, FIBA World Cup MVP Irving, Plumlee and Thompson. Four finalists were members of the 2010 USA world championship squad that went 9-0 and captured gold in Istanbul, Turkey: Curry, FIBA World Cup MVP Durant, Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook; and Howard, James and Paul earned a bronze medal at the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan.

Twelve nations compete in the Olympic men’s basketball competition and eight of those 12 teams have been identified. Olympic invites have been awarded to host Japan, and to seven teams based on their finish in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. FIBA extended invites to the top-finishing team from the African Zone at the 2019 world cup (Nigeria), the top two world cup finishers from the Americas Zone (Argentina and USA), the top finisher from the Asia Zone (Iran), the first two finishers from the European Zone (Spain and France), and the top finisher from the Oceania Zone (Australia.). 

The final four teams will qualify through FIBA's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments. The four men's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, taking place from June 22- July 4, 2021, will be played in Canada, Croatia, Lithuania and Serbia. The winners of each of the four tournaments will qualify for Tokyo 2020.

Athletes are selected based on performance in U.S. Men’s National Basketball Team events and professional seasons.

• TBD – Olympic draws for all four tournaments (men & women, 5x5 & 3x3)
• June 22 - July 4, 2021 – FIBA Olympic Men’s Qualifying Tournaments
• TBD 2021 – USA Men’s National Team Training Camp opens