July 24, 2012; Barcelona, SPAIN; USA forward LeBron James (6) celebrates with teammate Kevin Durant (5) during the second half of an exhibition game against Spain in preparation for the 2012 London Olympic Games at Palau Sant Jordi. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE
The USA men's basketball team opened Olympic pool play in Group A with a solid 98-71 win over France.,
With Tony Parker playing through an eye injury that had him wearing some stylish black-rimmed rec specs, the French team hung tough with the U.S squad through the first quarter. But the U.S. team eventually overwhelmed France allowing LeBron James to rest for much of the second half. In fact, all 12 players for Team USA scored at least a point, including Anthony Davis.
With all of the talent on the U.S. roster, James makes the whole thing hum when he is on the court with his ability to do, well, everything at a high level. At one point in the first half, LBJ was essentially playing center (point-center?) against Boris Diaw, an undersized middle man himself for France. James finished with nine points and eight assists including a sweet, long bounce pass to a streaking Kevin Durant for a transition dunk. Durant led all scorers with 22 points and added nine rebounds.
No, Ian Mahinmi is not playing for the French team in London. I've had a few people expressing concern that if Mahinmi wasn't good enough to play on that France team that needed more size, then he must not be that good. First of all, just let the guy play a couple of months with the Pacers before burying him. Secondly, Mahinmi has played on the French national team for the 2010 World Championships and expected to play in London but withdrew earlier in the summer.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is not a fan of his players being used in the Olympics when he's the one paying them to play for the Mavericks. Mahinmi was still hoping to re-sign with the Mavs and needed to focus on his NBA career this summer, so he pulled out. Likewise, speedy guard Rodrigue Beaubois didn't want to risk injury while heading into the last year of his contract with the Mavs.
Looking through the roster for France, they have a nice group of players that continues to grow. Along with Parker and Diaw, France has NBA players Ronny Turiaf, Nicolas Batum and Kevin Seraphin. Along with missing Mahinmi and Beaubois, the French team was also missing Mickael Pietrus and Joakim Noah. Depth is so key for any team trying to beat Team USA.
Of course, depth and hoping the USA team doesn't play well. In the opener on Sunday, the U.S. team played quite well, like the gold medal favorites.
After the jump, check out some video highlights of Mahinmi playing in the 2010 World Championships when France beat Spain.