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The somewhat insidious union of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh has already become a tall tale. We know where they are, but not how they got there; through some turn of events — either perfectly ordinary, completely bizarre, or flat-out devilish, depending on who you talk to — three of the league’s biggest stars decided to sign with the same team. Their paths are convoluted and their motives unclear. However, the 2008 Olympics are almost universally considered to be the genesis of the idea, and yet no one seems all that interested in the possibility of a repeat occurrence.

That same tier of stars may not be redeeming Team USA this summer, but all kinds of NBA talents will be forming preliminary bonds at this year’s World Championships. Kevin Durant is the headliner, and his name alone should be enough to spark a discussion. Yet how about this for an interesting turn: With Durant’s cozy seat in OKC, a great set-up with Sam Presti and Scott Brooks running the show, and even his Thunder teammates Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green along for the ride, what if it’s KD and the Thunder pulling the coup?

OKC already has one of the top defenses in the league and one of its most dynamic stars, so to have the faces of the franchise potentially playing recruiter to the NBA’s near-elite is an invaluable opportunity. The Thunder don’t need LeBron James and Chris Bosh to make the leap. Instead, what if Durant, Westbrook, and Green made a subtle pitch to Brook Lopez? Or Kevin Love? All prospective additions will likely sound a bit far-fetched now. That’s probably because they are. After all, in 2008, who would have believed the events that have transpired this summer?

It’s just curious that shortly after delving into the hijinx James and Co. got into at summer camp, we’re witnessing teams all across the league send their stars to canoodle without the slightest hesitancy. With newly christened free agents like David Lee or Rudy Gay, there’s hardly need for alarm. Yet for teams delegating young, talented players just a few seasons away from testing the free agent waters? The very possibility of Superfriends Redux should make those GMs shake in their boots.

Durant aside, there aren’t any established (Sorry, not yet, ‘Reke and Rose) franchise-making stars of the bunch, but that doesn’t mean their departure wouldn’t do serious damage to the plans of their respective squads. Team USA isn’t just collecting these players because they smile well for the cameras. These are some of the best and brightest young talents in the league, and while there’s nothing to stop their extracurricular talking and plotting in normal settings, international competitions like this one offer a unique opportunity to compete with their fellow stars under highly competitive conditions. The strongest bonds are those that have been tested, and this year’s national team will walk through the fire together. If they come out with shiny new gold medals on the other side, this year’s World Championships could potentially influence the members of Team USA the same way that the 2008 Olympics did.

Seth Carstens