It’s becoming a familiar scene for the United States before a major international tournament. All the major stars that many fans would love to see put on the infamous uniform only to be thwarted by those very players dropping out due to injury or deciding to give their body a rest before the new season starts.
The Olympic Games are usually a time where the USA big guns would put their rest to one side and suit up for international duty as the lure of the gold medal to them is far more memorable than playing at a FIBA World Cup but the upcoming Olympiad in Rio is proving to be a different story.
London 2012 survivors Chris Paul, James Harden and Russell Westbrook have dropped their names out of contention for this summer along with World Cup 2014 winner and reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry. Kobe Bryant has retired so this year’s USA side will already have a slightly different look to it.
However, a question mark still remains on whether LeBron James will head to the Olympics and aim to win his third gold medal, something that no American has done. But will James be enticed to a record-setting fourth Summer Games?
Naturally, he’s waiting until the NBA Finals are well and truly a distant memory and he is allowed time to reflect and think clearly about what will happen next but when he his finally reunited with his thoughts for next season, there could be three obstacles that might put off USA Basketball’s own Mr. Olympia.
It isn’t a secret that James went into full on attack mode since the Cavaliers went 1-3 down in the NBA Finals. Mind you, his energy and commitment to basketball is stuck on attack mode for every night he is playing. Whether it’s the season opener, or a Tuesday night road fixture against a team that is several games away from the Playoff picture.
James usually saves his summers with the United States when the Olympics rolls around. He last appeared at the FIBA World Cup back in 2006 but has not been since, and with LeBron now 31-years-old, could he be looking to give other NBA stars some time to shine?
Without James in the line-up, national team duties propelled Kevin Durant (2010 FIBA World Cup) into an NBA MVP (2014) and All-Star Game MVP (2012) plus it lifted Stephen Curry (2014) into the NBA superstar conversation. The Golden State Warriors guard helped the Dub Nation to an NBA title in 2015 and Curry has won back-to-back NBA MVP awards (2015-2016) since his spell with the national side.
BIG NAMES HAVE DROPPED OUT
James is the leader of the Cleveland Cavaliers and constantly the team’s top performer. Yet, for the United States, he doesn’t have to worry about that.
LeBron was comfortable at the Beijing and London Games as there was plenty of firepower, which gave him space to be the team’s main facilitator – but more importantly – coach Krzyzewski gave him plenty of rest. He sat James for the entire second half in the United States’ thrashing of Nigeria in the English capital but with superstars like Westbrook, Kevin Love and especially Carmelo Anthony, who exploded for 37 points in that game.
But with big names dropping out of this summer’s Olympics in Rio, including James’ good friend Chris Paul. He could be called upon like he is in Cleveland. Will it be too much for him?
A member of the virus family Flaviviridae and the genus Flavivirus, the Zika virus has been reported in Brazil. Local mosquito transmission means that mosquitoes in the area are infected with Zika virus and are spreading it to people.
Spain’s Pau Gasol is the only national basketball player to have publicly come out about the virus with the Chicago Bulls big man possibly opting to freeze his sperm if he chooses to play.
Could this virus be enough for LeBron to be put off Rio 2016?