team participating in this year’s Olympic Games in Rio will be short another star as LeBron James confirmed that the will not play for his nation’s basketball team.
It had been a long season as the Cavaliers star led Cleveland into their first major sporting title in 52 years. Initially down 3-1 against Steph Curry’s Warriors, LeBron managed to carry his native team into game 7 and a first spectacular turnaround in the NBA grand finals to win the Championship trophy.
“I could use the rest,” the local youth product said.
LeBron will be joining Curry in a star-studded list of national team draft absentees; the unanimous NBA MVP had already announced his withdrawal earlier, citing injury issues.
Having two Olympics gold medals under his belt could also be a factor influencing the NBA fnals MVP. James had won gold in 2012 and 2008 with the USA team then, as well as bronze in 2004.
Additionally, other athletes who had concerns over the spreading strain of Zika virus and the political turmoil in Brazil had also withdrawn from Rio 2016. However, James’s decision was understood to have been solely for sporting reasons: he has played more minutes than any other player in the NBA over the last six seasons.
Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski is already adjusting plans after stars such as Russell Westbrook, James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge and Chris Paul had also withdrawn from the player drafting process.
But even with such talent handicap, Team USA remains heavy favorites to win gold: they are currently 1 to 14 with bookmakers. The next most favored team are Spain at 10 to 1.
USA Basketball will officially announce their 12-man roster for Rio next week. Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson and Kyle Lowry are expected to be included.
Kevin Durant had also confirmed earlier this week that he intends to play in Rio, while sources also revealed that Paul George, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins also have committed to the US.