Originally created 06/03/04

Ben Wallace expects to play in Olympics



AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace expects to play for the U.S. men's basketball team at the Olympics in Athens.

"They asked me two weeks ago if I would say, 'Yes' to playing on the team, and I said, 'Yes,"' Wallace said Tuesday night before playing Indiana in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. "I don't know if they have decided what to do because they haven't announced it yet."

U.S. coach Larry Brown, who is also Wallace's coach in Detroit, said the USA Basketball selection committee will have a conference call this week to find replacements for players who have withdrawn from the roster.

"I can't comment (on Wallace), but it would be a wonderful thing if it's true," Brown said. "He's the ultimate team player and the committee has been trying to structure a team."

Wallace, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, was named to the All-NBA second team for a second straight time this season.

The rugged rebounder is known for his defense and rebounding, but entering Tuesday's game, he has averaging 10 points in the playoffs along with 14.4 rebounds and nearly three blocks per game. Wallace was on the 2002 U.S. team that finished sixth at the World Championships.

Tracy McGrady recently joined a long list of stars opting not to play in Athens.

Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Elton Brand and Kenyon Martin have withdrawn from the team or have told the selection committee they would not accept invitations.

The U.S. roster now includes Mike Bibby and Stephon Marbury at point guard, although Bibby has been wavering on his commitment. The shooting guard position will be manned by Allen Iverson and LeBron James, with Richard Jefferson and Shawn Marion at small forward, Amare Stoudemire and Tim Duncan at power forward and Jermaine O'Neal at center.

O'Neal, who had a knee injury in Game 4 against Detroit, has declined to comment on his spot on the team because he said he's only thinking about the NBA playoffs.

Brown has said he would like to add veteran shooting guard Reggie Miller to the squad.

"They sent me a list of people that they were going to discuss," Brown said, "and there were a lot of deserving guys: (Ron) Artest, Michael Redd, Richard amilton), Eddie Jones, but I think they're waiting to find out what positions are needed to be filled, how many big guys we have, how many small forwards we have, how many guards.

"I think we've got some good players, some good alternatives, so we'll see."