AKRON, Ohio -- LeBron James isn't going to the Olympics this summer to be a cheerleader.
Although the Cleveland Cavaliers star will be the youngest member of a U.S. basketball team stocked with stars, James expects to be more than a role
"I gotta earn my stripes," the NBA's Rookie of the Year said. "I might start on the bench, but that doesn't mean I'm going to end up on the bench in
James was recently added to a fluctuating U.S. roster that could undergo more change before it heads to Greece. Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson and Stephon
Marbury are among the players who have committed while others like Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal, Tracy McGrady and Mike Bibby are on the fence.
Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd and Kevin Garnett are a few of the notables who have withdrawn citing injuries, fatigue or family issues.
There are also security concerns, and James said he respects anyone's decision not to participate.
"There's always things you have to worry about when you're out of the U.S.," he said. "But the NBA is trying its best to make sure we're safe and
we're going to do our best job to make sure we handle things on the court.
"I feel like if we get a great team, we're going to go over there and come back with a gold medal."
James was back in his hometown Wednesday dedicating one of five refurbished basketball courts he donated along with Nike, which signed him to a $90
million endorsement contract a year ago.
The new hardwood floor inside the Ed Davis Community now features a LeBron James logo at halfcourt and bears little resemblance to the rubber surface
the 19-year-old played on as a youngster.
"It wasn't that good," James recalled. "But back then it didn't matter. I'd play on any court, it didn't matter about traction or nothing like that.
It's amazing how they switched it around."
[Edited on 5/26/2004 by Ben]