After plenty of back-and-forth thinking, LeBron James opted to sit out the Rio Olympics.
It sounds like he’s still going back-and-forth.
LeBron on Team USA, via a Rachel Nichols interview that will air tomorrow on ABC’s Good Morning America:
“Every time I watch ’em I wish I was out there…I did not retire from Team USA. I just did not play this summer. So I still left the door open.”
LeBron will be 35 in 2020, which would make him the oldest American Olympic men’s basketball player since Larry Bird in 1992. I’m skeptical about LeBron playing for Team USA in Tokyo.
But USA Basketball holds him in high regard, and he might not need to fully earn a spot. Even if it’s based on merit, LeBron is declining from such a high peak, he could be one of the Americans’ top players four years from now.
The bigger issue is whether LeBron will want to play. He just led the Cavaliers to back-to-back Finals, and his team figures to run the East for a while. That’s a lot of mileage to rack up between the NBA regular season and playoffs, let alone adding Olympic play.
LeBron, like many watching on television, has been thrilled by the Rio Games. As that excitement dissipates and reality sets in a few years from now, he’ll be more prone to focus on his health and remaining NBA years.
Tony Parker said a couple years ago he’d retire from international competition following the 2016 Olympics.
After France’s quarterfinal loss to Spain today, the Spurs guard followed through on his plan.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
Parker never medal in the Olympics or FIBA World Cup (previously called the FIBA World Championships), but he had a distinguished international career in lower levels. He’s the all-time leading scorer in Eurobasket history.
The focus now turns to San Antonio, where Parker can help fill the leadership void created by Tim Duncan‘s retirement. More importantly, Parker will start at point guard for a team trying to win behind Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol.
Parker said he plans to play at least five more NBA seasons, which would mean he’d still be active for the 2017 Eurobasket and 2019 World Cup. Would he consider playing in either? He insists no, and the Spurs would probably prefer him lightening the load as he enters his late 30s. But national pride can be persuasive.
Team USA must first beat Argentina in a quarterfinal – 5:45 p.m. Eastern on NBC Sports Network and streaming here – but the Americans have eyed a different opponent:
Marc Stein of ESPN on Spain:
this is still the team that USA Basketball staffers privately fear the most
And that was before Spain crushed France by 25 in their quarterfinal today.
Spain has fared much better than the U.S. against good competition in Rio, beating Lithuania by 50 and Argentina by 19 and lost to Croatia by just two. The Spaniards are loaded with talent, including Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Mirotic, Sergio Lull, Sergio Rodriguez, Rudy Fernandez, Juan Carlos Navarro and Willie Hernangomez. They looked especially good today, moving the ball offensively and defending cohesively. Add Spain’s history of success – winning silver medals behind the U.S. in the previous two Olympics – and the concern is justified.
Team USA just better not overlook Argentina. Argentina is capable of upsetting the Americans if they show up lethargic.
But if the U.S. tops Argentina, a little extra preparation for Spain might pay off.
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Spain is back in the semifinals of the men’s basketball tournament for the third straight time after pasting France 92-67 on Wednesday.
Nikola Mirotic scored 23 for the Spaniards, who won silver medals at Beijing in 2008 and London four years ago.
Spain was in danger of missing the quarterfinals after opening the Rio Games 0-2. But it recovered with three wins, including a 50-point rout of Lithuania and 19-point thumping of Argentina to advance.
Now the Spaniards not only have a shot at a medal, but maybe another crack at the U.S., which has beaten them in the gold-medal game in the past two Olympics. The Americans meet Argentina in another quarterfinal with the winner facing Spain on Friday.
France’s Tony Parker scored 14 in what could be his final Olympic game. The 34-year-old returned after sitting out a three-point loss to the Americans with a toe injury.
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