Monday, July 30, 2012

Jersey Monday: LeBron James (USA, 2006)

Because it was "just" the World Championship (and not the Olympics), this is the recent version of Team USA that tends to be forgotten. They even got relatively nondescript jerseys, as you can see from this picture. The team went 8-1 en route to another disappointing bronze medal, losing to Greece in the semis before rebounding with a win against Argentina in the bronze-medal game.

This was also the first time LeBron James wore his now-familiar No. 6 in competition. As I pointed out last Monday, James wore No. 9 for Team USA in his first go-round before adopting No. 6 in 2006.

As you can see from the picture, these jerseys are pretty plain, particularly by the standards of the last two Olympics. It seems like Nike -- who took over the USA Basketball contract from Reebok after 2004 -- wanted to save its flashier designs for the larger stage. They repeated that in 2010, going with a generic look for the World Championship (which LeBron didn't play in) before unveiling the new look USA font and sublimated flag for this year's jerseys.

Aside from the loss to Greece, this World Championship team will probably be remembered as the one that gave Carmelo Anthony his "great FIBA player" reputation. 'Melo led the team in scoring, averaging 19.9 PPG while shooting 44% from 3-point range. LeBron "only" averaged 13.9 PPG (good for 3rd on the team), while shooting 58% from the floor (33% from 3).

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