Bernat Armangue, Associated Press
Russian national basketball player Andrei Kirilenko will carry his national flag in opening ceremonies tonight. Kirilenko, of the Utah Jazz, is one of several NBA stars to get that honor.

BEIJING — Try out this starting five: Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, former Indiana Pacer/Golden State player Sarunas Jasikevicius and Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko.

All five have enjoyed standout professional basketball careers — four in the NBA, with Jasikevicius seeing his best days playing in Europe.

The five will share another honor tonight by carrying their respective national flags in the Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies.

That includes Kirilenko for Russia, Yao for China, Nowitzki for Germany, Ginobili for Argentina and Jasikevicius for Lithuania.

"There will be a lot of tall people in the opening ceremony (carrying flags)," said Kirilenko. "Yao will be the funniest because the other Chinese will look so small behind him."

Track athlete Lopez Lomong, once a child refugee from Sudan who specializes in the 1,500 meters, will carry the U.S. flag, while a pair of tennis stars — Switzerland's Roger Federer and Chile's Fernando Gonzalez — will bear their national flags in the ceremonies.


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