LAS VEGAS Half of the 12-player U.S. Olympic men's basketball team hadn't been born when singer Marvin Gaye wowed the 1984 NBA All-Star Game crowd with a stirring, soulful rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Thanks to the technology of video recording and a massive flat-screen TV sitting sidelines at the UNLV Cox Pavilion, the late Gaye once again moved a collection of NBA superstars as the U.S. Olympic team made its '08 debut at Saturday's mini-camp.
U.S. head coach Mike Krzyzewski introduced the video to the Olympic squad early in Saturday's practice and then had it run on a continuous loop throughout the three-hour session.
Calling Gaye's performance of the national anthem "one of the greatest renditions," Krzyzewski said the intent was to create "a moment" and put his players in that moment.
"They've been in moments with their respective NBA teams," he said. "They need to be in this moment right now, for two months. And that's all part of this weekend in mind and in spirit so that when they're making these commitments, they understand that it's for a higher cause."
And the players including the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and the Utah Jazz duo of Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams have bought into Krzyzewski's pitch.
"We know exactly what's at stake," said Boozer, citing the date of Beijing's gold-medal game. "We want to hear our national anthem on the 24th of August."
An assistant with the United States' "Dream Team" at the 1992 Barcelona Games, Krzyzewski was hoping Saturday to have his Olympians visualize standing on a basketball court, representing the United States, listening to the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
"Instead of having a fight song or whatever, that's our song," Krzyzewski said.
"Today, I wanted them to envision the gold-medal game," he added. "It's August 24 and they're out on the court, and our anthem I get chills thinking about it right now our anthem will be played. And, if we do what we're supposed to do, then to envision being on that medal stand, and again that national anthem is being played."
The gold-medal anticipation and the star-caliber company were not lost on the two Jazz teammates.
"It's an honor to play with these guys," Boozer said. "They're fun to play with they make the game so much easier. It's exciting it's like playing an All-Star game, except we're playing for one common goal."
Williams appreciated the significance of the squad and his involvement.
"It's a special group of guys 12 of the best players in the world, all on one basketball court," Williams said. "It's a special thing to be a part of. We're all business out there, but at the same time, we're staying loose and having fun."
The goal of the gold medal and Gaye's stirring anthem rendition, however, was a constant thread among the U.S. players and coaches.
Said point guard Jason Kidd of Gaye's performance: "That's our theme song and it's touching, too. That was the best national anthem."
The 35-year-old Kidd who as a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team is the only holdover from the last time the United States won a men's basketball gold medal was also the target of some good-natured razzing.
"As we were leaving, Kobe asked me if I was on that (1984) All-Star team," Kidd said, chuckling. "That was a good one he got me on that one."
Krzyzewski put using the Gaye video into perspective."That shows a little bit of the past, what we're doing in the present," he said. "And at some time, they (the '08 U.S. Olympians) will be looked upon in the future as people who got it and hopefully did something right with it when they got it."
Jersey numbers for 12-player teams in international competition are mandated to be Nos. 4 through 15.Utah Jazz teammates Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams both wore No. 7 the last time they represented the United State Boozer at the 2004 Athens Olympics and Williams at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championships.
Here's the numerical roster of the 2008 U.S. Olympic men's team:
No. Player . . . . . Previous . . . . . USA jersey numbers
4 . . . . . Carlos Boozer . . . . . wore No. 4 in '04 at Athens
5 . . . . . Jason Kidd . . . . . wore No. 5 at the 2000 Sydney Games
6 . . . . . LeBron James . . . . . wore No. 9 in Athens, has worn No. 6 since
7 . . . . . Deron Williams . . . . . wore No. 7 in the FIBA Americas last summer
8 . . . . . Michael Redd . . . . . wore No. 8 last summer in the FIBA Americas
9 . . . . . Dwyane Wade . . . . . flip-flopped with LeBron No. 6, then No. 9
10 . . . . . Kobe Bryant . . . . . wore No. 10 in last summer's FIBA Americas
11 . . . . . Dwight Howard . . . . . wore No. 12 at Worlds, No. 11 last summer
12 . . . . . Chris Bosh . . . . . wore No. 11 at '06 World Championships
13 . . . . . Chris Paul . . . . . wore No. 10 at '06 World Championships
14 . . . . . Tayshaun Prince . . . . . wore No. 9 at '07 FIBA Americas