NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving took one last shot on the flight home from the NBA Finals, hoping LeBron James would play in the Olympics.

James isn’t going to Rio, and neither are many more of basketball’s best players.

The Americans think they’ll be just fine with who they have.

“We should be heavily favored,” Klay Thompson of Golden State said. “I mean, 12 NBA stars, very unselfish guys, very versatile team, we definitely should be favored. It’s a disappointment if we don’t win gold.”

The U.S. selected the roster Monday. Led by Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, it hopes it can win gold for the third straight time.

Durant and Anthony are the only players with Olympic experience after a number of stars, including James, decided to skip Rio.

Also chosen were Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes of Golden State; Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan of Toronto; Paul George of Indiana; Jimmy Butler of Chicago; DeMarcus Cousins of Sacramento; and DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers.

Irving was the MVP of the 2014 Basketball World Cup on a U.S. team that included Thompson, Cousins and DeRozan, and easily won gold.

The Americans should roll into Rio as the favorites. Yet they won’t look as imposing as expected after the withdrawals of Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and James Harden.

“As far as the talent goes and the level of play, I’m pretty sure that that’s still going to be the same,” Anthony said. “We don’t have as many of the big-name guys that we’ve had before, but I think so far this is a great group of guys and they’re hungry. They want to play.”

The USA Basketball chairman, Jerry Colangelo, said having a national team pool, which he began in 2005, always has the Americans ready for player losses. There were 31 players in this year’s and he had to go deep into it – and eventually even beyond it – to find 12. The usual factors that can knock players out were joined by the Zika virus and other concerns in Brazil.

Anthony said he talked to doctors and people who have been to Brazil about the risks of the mosquito-borne virus.

“In the past we dealt with things like free agency, injuries, personal issues that might prevent someone from moving forward. This year it was exacerbated by circumstances beyond anyone’s control, and that was the reality, the speculation and the circumstance in Rio,” Colangelo said. “So somewhat more challenging, but at the end of the day – and this is important – this is not about who isn’t here, this is about who is here.”

Anthony becomes the first U.S. men’s basketball player to appear in four Olympics. Durant set a U.S. record by averaging 19.5 points in London and also was the MVP when the U.S. won the 2010 world championship.

“Shoot, when you’re playing with the best players in the world, it makes it easy,” Durant said. “I’m just going out there and playing my game. They take all the pressure off of me.”

Mike Krzyzewski of Duke will coach the Americans for the third and final time, tying Henry Iba’s team record. He will lead a team with strong NBA credentials – nine were All-Stars this season – but a little short on international experience.

James would have joined Anthony with a fourth selection. He pulled out last week after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA championship.

Irving said winning a gold medal would be even sweeter and he attempted to convince James to chase it with him.

“Hey, I tried,” Irving said. “I tried to get him to come and after we won the championship … I was kind of nudging him on the plane, I was like, ‘So are you going to play USA?’ He just didn’t know at the time and I gave him a lot of space because, I mean, he’s been playing basketball every single year for a long length of time.”

The heaviest losses came at point guard, where Curry passed on making his Olympic debut after knee and ankle injuries in the playoffs. Paul and Westbrook, who are former Olympians, also pulled out and what was a position of strength became so depleted that Lowry was added last week even though he wasn’t even a member of the pool.

But Colangelo focused on the strength of the team that was selected, adding that he and Krzyzewski are excited about working with new faces.

“Their credentials speak for themselves and now it’s just a matter of Coach having some time with the group, because there’s so many new people, just getting everyone to blend in,” Colangelo said.

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