After leading the Warriors to their second straight Finals and battling injuries through the playoffs, Stephen Curry begged out of the Rio Olympics, staying home to rest. Team USA did just fine without him.
But Curry still wants a gold medal to go with his NBA ring and MVP trophies. He spoke to FIBA.com recently and said he plans to play in both the next World Cup and Olympics, if possible.
“Going forward, I do plan on playing at the World Cup (in 2019 in China), being healthy and being in a good position to be in Tokyo.”
As for not playing in Rio…
“The way it went down this past year with the injury, it was the right decision,” Curry said to FIBA.com in his hometown of Charlotte, where he recently played for the Golden State Warriors against the Hornets. “It was a tough one because I put a lot of equity into playing for Team USA and was looking forward to playing for the Olympic team for the first time.
“The decision for me personally was that it was best not to play, and to get ready for the season, to get healthy.”
Curry wasn’t alone in that decision, but the structure put in place USA Basketball CEO and coach Mike Krzyzewski meant Team USA had the depth to overcome the losses (LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, James Harden, Blake Griffin, and on and on) and still have quality players who understood the system. The USA still won gold.
However, Curry has to be thinking a little about his basketball legacy, and he will want a gold medal to be part of that. New USA coach Gregg Popovich will welcome his shooting to Team USA going forward, Curry is the perfect example of the kind of American player the rest of the world both does not have and does not know how to cover.
What will be interesting for the USA is the run-up to the World Cup, which is one year later and just a year before the Olympics. FIBA has changed the qualifying dates and some conflict with the NBA schedule, which means D-League players will be part of the effort to qualify. The USA is not alone in this, all the world’s top leagues run on roughly the same schedule as the NBA.