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“That experience I’ve kind of forgotten about, honestly,” James said. “I was thrown in as an afterthought after my rookie year and I didn’t play much and we wasn’t a team. Ever since then, being a part of this and part of Team USA has been great for myself — and I know Melo feels the same.”

James has become a leader for the Americans, perhaps caring more about that role because leadership was so lacking on that ‘04 disaster.

“It’s great to see and, yeah, we owe them such a debt of gratitude for committing themselves to be part of this,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said. “And that’s the thing that touches me so, so much, that players have really committed to it because they liked it, felt comfortable, wanted to be a part of it. And those guys were right at the forefront, Carmelo, LeBron.”

NBA commissioner David Stern has discussed limiting Olympic participation to players 23 and younger, a proposal that would have to be approved by FIBA, basketball’s world governing body.