2024 paris olympics

Jimmer Fredette to headline Team USA's 3×3 men's basketball roster for Paris Olympics

The U.S. didn't qualify for men's 3x3 when the sport debuted at the Tokyo Games

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Jimmer Fredette, Kareem Maddox, Canyon Barry and Dylan Travis piled up enough wins together last year to get USA Basketball qualified in men’s 3x3 for the Paris Olympics.

They’re staying together to chase gold in France.

USA Basketball announced its men’s 3x3 roster for the Paris Games on Tuesday, going with the same foursome that won a silver medal at the World Cup and gold at the Pan American Games last year. Other players were considered, including some from the NBA, but in the end the Americans decided to stick with what has worked.

“It’s the way that we wanted it to be,” Fredette said. “I think it’s what USA Basketball was looking for and it’s what we were hoping for.”

To them, it seemed right: The four players who did the bulk of the work — 3x3 rosters have only four players — should have gotten the opportunity to see what they can do on the sport’s biggest stage. USA Basketball evidently agreed.

“They’re the best team. And I think when you’re putting together a roster, you want the best team, the best group of four guys that are going to give you the best chance to win,” USA men’s 3x3 coach Joe Lewandowski said. “You’re not looking for an All-Star team. You’re not looking for the highest jumpers, the fastest guys. You’re looking for the best team, the guys who play so well together they take their game to another level.”

USA Basketball's picks for men's, women's and women's 3x3 are expected later this spring.

The U.S. didn’t qualify for men’s 3x3 when the sport debuted at the Tokyo Games; the Americans won gold in women’s 3x3 that summer, as well as in traditional men’s and women’s basketball. Every team that USA Basketball has sent to an Olympics — all 31 of them — has won a medal, 26 of them gold.

The 3x3 game is played on a half court with a 12-second shot clock and play is super-fast. Baskets are worth one or two points, and the winner is either the first team to 21 points or the leader when the 10-minute clock expires. Games rarely take the full 10 minutes.

The foursome announced Tuesday currently hold the world’s No. 2 ranking behind Serbia — which rallied late to beat the Americans in the final at the World Cup.

“They really represent the United States well,” Lewandowski said.

They came from wildly different backgrounds: Fredette was an NBA lottery pick, Maddox is a Princeton grad who hosted “All Things Considered” on National Public Radio in Colorado before returning to basketball, Travis retired once from playing and nearly retired from 3x3 as well because it was interfering with his job as a special education teacher, while Barry watched three of his brothers play in the NBA and is the son of Basketball Hall of Famer Rick Barry.

He didn’t get to the NBA. But neither his dad, nor his siblings, played in the Olympics.

“I’m very honored to be an Olympian,” Canyon Barry said. “And in the Barry family, it’s very hard to do something in the basketball realm that hasn’t been previously accomplished, whether it’s winning NCAA championships, winning NBA championships, becoming members of the Hall of Fame, playing in the All-Star Game. There are very few areas of basketball that have been unexplored by the Barrys, so to become an Olympian and kind of round out that portfolio is a cool treat.”

There isn’t a ton of money in 3x3, they fly coach without much of a support staff, they do their own laundry before rushing to airports to catch the next flight and they’re often away from home for extended periods.

It was one of those laundry missions that helped bring the group together. Maddox and Travis were hurrying to get some washing done in Amsterdam when they noticed a unique storefront nearby. They went in and emerged with a yellow stone, which has become a good-luck charm of sorts for the group. Where they go, the rock goes. And before they play, everyone touches the rock.

“It was very random,” Maddox said. “The gem dealer told us that rock was good for teamwork and leadership.”

It became a thing, and a few more rocks — Maddox says they represent good fortune and vitality — have since been added to the team collection. Nobody is quite sure what the yellow rock is; Maddox thinks it’s amethyst but can’t say for certain.

This much is clear, though: This summer in Paris, they get to chase a more precious metal — gold.

“I never even knew this could be in the cards for me,” Travis said. “I never thought I'd make a USA team, to be honest. And now this has happened.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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