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August 23, 2014

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Colangelo says Team USA-Las Vegas is a great fit

Apparently Las Vegas will not have seen the last of the U.S. national basketball team by the time it leaves this weekend after Friday night's warm-up game against Canada.

As part of a three-year commitment to the city, Team USA spent a total of 87 days training here the past two summers, which includes last summer's thrashing of all comers at the FIBA Americas tournament.

A couple weeks ago, the coaches and players spent a weekend here getting reacquainted, and they've been practicing for Team Canada and the Olympics next month this week at Valley High.

Team USA executive director Jerry Colangelo more than intimated that he expects the relationship with Las Vegas to continue.

"There haven't been any preliminary discussions about renegotiating (a contract) or anything like that," Colangelo said after Wednesday's practice. "But suffice it to say, I think both sides will tell you it's been a resounding success.

"Both sides are very happy and pleased. It's been a wonderful partnership."

There will be a time and place, he said, when parties from both sides sit down, review the past and talk about the future.

"I would say that I'd be optimistic about the fact that there's a great opportunity to continue the relationship," Colangelo said. "Why not? It's been such a good one. You don't mess with a good thing."

The Americans play two warm-up games apiece in Macao and Shangai before starting the Olympics against China in Beijing on Aug. 10.

In Las Vegas, the Team USA contingent has been staying at the Wynn and everyone has raved about how they've been treated by Steve Wynn and his wife, Elaine, all of the hotel staff and by the city in general.

"It's fulfilled all our expectations," Colangelo said. "Let's put it that way. This has been a home for us for three summers and we all kind of feel that."

LeBron doesn't practice

After rolling his right ankle at Tuesday's practice, forward LeBron James did not participate in Wednesday's session.

But he did not favor the ankle at all as he walked to the team bus after practice, so he will likely play against Team Canada on Friday at 5 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The crowd outside Valley High did not care about James's ankle, however, when he exited the gym. He has not signed autographs all week, but this time he actually veered to the left, almost going toward a crowd with pens, before boarding the bus.

He smiled widely just before walking up the stairs.

"Did you see that!" one irate fan yelled. "You see that arrogance! We ought to throw his jerseys back at him after Friday's game!"

Dwight Howard and others accommodated the fans graciously.

"We love you Dwight," that fan said. "Thanks for being so nice."

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