Brand a Chosen One?

Times Staff Writer

Elton Brand, Olympian?

It appeared Wednesday the Clipper forward would play for the U.S. men’s basketball team in the 2006 world championships and 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Brand met privately with Jerry Colangelo, managing director of the USA men’s senior national team and chief executive of the Phoenix Suns, at Staples Center before Wednesday’s game against the Suns.

Although Brand declined to reveal whether Colangelo offered him a roster spot, he is expected to soon announce he has joined the team, a Clipper source said.


“He just let me know that there was a lot of interest in me, and I let him know that there’s a lot of interest also on my part,” Brand said. “I let him know that if they extended that honor, that invitation, I’d be in.”

If Brand commits, he would be reunited with Mike Krzyzewski, who coached Brand at Duke and will guide the U.S. Olympic team.

Brand has remained close with Krzyzewski, whom he credits with “pushing me to help make me the player I am. He never took it easy on me, and I know how hard he works. He always wants to do his best in whatever he does.”

The U.S. men haven’t fared well in international competition recently.

Brand was on the team that finished sixth at the 2002 world championships in Indianapolis, and the U.S. was third at the 2004 Olympics.

At the Athens Games, several top NBA players declined invitations to play for the team coached by Larry Brown.

Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Allen Inverson of the Philadelphia 76ers are among the All-Stars expected to participate this time.


“Especially after what happened at the last Olympics, it makes you want to go out there and represent your country,” Brand said. “If I get a chance, I want to help show the world that basketball is an American sport, and we’re still the best in the world at it. It’s definitely important to do that.”

There’s a possibility playing for the U.S. could become a three-summer commitment if the team fails to win the 2006 World Championships and qualify for the Olympics. In that event, it would also have to play qualifying games in 2007, but that’s fine with Brand.

“You can’t worry about that,” he said. “As long as you stay healthy and continue your regimen, I think it will help. You’re practicing against the best every day. How can that not help you?”