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Saturday, May 15, 2004 - Page updated at 01:40 P.M.
Percy Allen / NBA reporter
After months of indecision about whether he'd participate in the Athens Olympics, Ray Allen took one long look at his pregnant fiancee during a recent Hawaiian vacation and, despite her encouragement to play, decided to decline an invitation from the U.S. basketball committee.
The committee announced the Sonics All-Star guard's decision during yesterday's news conference in New York when it revealed the names of the five replacements added to the team.
"I definitely don't want to miss the birth," Allen said during a telephone interview. "It's sad for me to not want to play, but there's more to life than just basketball."
Cleveland's LeBron James, who is the first rookie to join the national team since pro players began competing, will be joined by New York guard Stephon Marbury, Richard Jefferson of New Jersey and Phoenix forwards Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion.
With the losses of Allen and Kobe Bryant, who informed USA Basketball officials he declined his invitation because of his impending sexual-assault trial, the roster is filled with the maximum of 12 players.
Los Angeles Lakers forward Karl Malone, New Jersey guard Jason Kidd, San Antonio forward Tim Duncan, Philadelphia guard Allen Iverson, Indiana forward Jermaine O'Neal, Orlando forward Tracy McGrady and Sacramento guard Mike Bibby are also on the team.
Kidd, Malone, McGrady and Bibby are reportedly reconsidering their decision to play in Athens.
Possible replacements, should others leave, include Minnesota guard Sam Cassell, Indiana forward Ron Artest, Denver forward Carmelo Anthony and Miami forward Lamar Odom.
Several players who are having second thoughts about the games have cited fatigue, nagging injuries and security issues in Athens.
Allen, who won a gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Games, told committee members that he'd be unable to attend because of family reasons. He is engaged to be married this summer to Shannon Williams, and the couple expects their first child sometime in late August or early September.
In light of the number of dropouts, is the U.S. committee considering returning to a format where players try out for the Olympic team?
"It's an idea that has been discussed," said Stu Jackson, the NBA's senior vice president of basketball operations and selections committee chairman. "At this point in time, we feel the best method is inviting players."
The U.S. team opens training camp in Jacksonville, Fla., on July 26, then travels to Europe for a series of matches in August against Germany, Turkey and world champions Serbia in Belgrade. The U.S. plays its first game in the Olympics on Aug. 15.
Former Sonic Spencer Haywood was named coach and general manager of player development for the American Basketball Association's Reno Rockers.
Times staff columnist Ron Judd and AP contributed to this report.
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