USA Basketball Practice
Louie Traub  /  AP
LeBron James lies down on a training bench following a USA Basketball team practice in Las Vegas.
Associated Press Sports
updated 7/23/2008 3:27:30 AM ET 2008-07-23T07:27:30

LeBron James limped from the trainer’s table to a nearby folding chair, careful not to put any pressure on his sprained right ankle.

A few feet away, Dwyane Wade conducted interviews with ice packs on both knees, with Kobe Bryant striking the same pose to his right. To Wade’s left, Carmelo Anthony was getting his shoulder wrapped by a trainer.

This didn’t look like a team ready to conquer the basketball world.

However, Wade said playing in pain is nothing new for himself or his teammates.

“I don’t think for a lot of players,” he said after practice Tuesday. “Look at Kobe over there, he’s got two bags of ice and his feet in an ice bucket. Everybody’s used to bumps and bruises. That’s our game. You only get to play it for 15, 16 years if you’re lucky, so you can suck it up.”

James’ injury, though called mild, is the biggest concern for now.

The superstar forward was hurt when he landed on Kevin Durant’s foot during a closed scrimmage between the U.S. team and a select squad of young NBA players at Valley High School.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski said he would know more on Wednesday, after James has had a chance to rest.

“He thinks it’s a mild sprain,” Krzyzewski said. “Our trainers think it’s a mild sprain. So we’ll find out tomorrow. But I don’t think it’s anything serious. Obviously, we’ll look and see what happens tomorrow.”

James could possibly practice Wednesday, but the team would surely prefer to let him rest for now with still a few weeks until the Olympics.

“We got time,” Anthony said. “I think it’s just a little mild ankle sprain. We got time. We need him to rest. We don’t need him right now. We need him on Aug. 10.”

The Americans have already dealt with an injury to another starter, center Dwight Howard, who is returning from a stress fracture to his sternum. And Wade, one of the top reserves, is coming back from left knee surgery.

Team officials have been encouraged by Howard and Wade during training camp this week. They seemed equally optimistic about James.

“You never want to see anyone hurt, but he’s had this sprain before,” managing director Jerry Colangelo said. “We’re being told it’s a minor deal. Obviously, he’s got to take care of it.”

In January, James missed a game with the Cleveland Cavaliers because of an ankle sprain. He returned to score 28 points in a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 2.

A few weeks later, James left a game against Boston late in the first half with an ankle injury. X-rays were negative and James returned for the start of the second.

On Tuesday, trainers wrapped the ankle in a black brace, and James hobbled off the court without speaking to reporters.

The U.S. can replace injured players until a final roster is submitted Aug. 7. But no one was talking about James being left off the squad.

“I ain’t concerned about that guy,” Wade said. “That guy is a professional. I’ve seen that guy get hurt one time in the NBA and come back in the second half and score 30-something. I’m not worried about him. He’s going to get healthy and it’ll take care of itself.”

The Americans have two more workouts before facing Canada in an exhibition on Friday. Then the squad leaves for Macau, where it opens a four-game exhibition tour. The Olympic opener is Aug. 10 against host China in Beijing.

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