After guiding Cleveland Cavaliers to its first NBA championship, LeBron James has decided not to chase down a third gold medal for Team USA at this summer’s Rio Olympics.
James’ agent Rich Paul informed USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo on Thursday with James personally informing head coach Mike Krzyzewski the same day.
“I could use the rest,” James told cleveland.com.
The announcement though could spell the end of 31-year-old’s storied international career with the USA, that began at the 2004 Olympics in Athens where he claimed a bronze medal. At the 2006 FIBA World Cup in Japan, he got another bronze. James eventually won his first gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and he continued that pattern in London, four years later.
A source close to James said a desire to rest his body from the last championship run and prepare for what he hopes is a second title is his sole reason for not playing for Team USA. The threat of the Zika virus is not a factor.
But not having the three-time NBA champion and Finals MVP isn’t all doom and gloom for FIBA’s top ranked side. Far from it, in fact.
Following on from an outstanding London 2012, where he fell in love with a shorter three-point line and torched Nigeria for 37 points in 15 minutes, Carmelo Anthony has decided to play for Team USA this summer in Rio.
Instead of James, it will be Anthony aiming for a third gold medal, adding to the ones that the New York Knicks superstar won in Beijing and London.
Carmelo Anthony has committed to chasing his third Olympic gold medal for Team USA this summer in Rio, league sources tell @TheVertical.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 23, 2016
Another player who has committed to playing in Rio this summer is Toronto Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan, who won gold at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.
Other Team USA roster finalists like Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard (according to ESPN) and Damian Lillard (according to The Vertical) have declined to play in Rio.
FIBA World Cup 2014 MVP, Kyrie Irving is almost guaranteed a spot on the roster, which is due by the end of June.