LeBron James is one of the most accomplished international players in American basketball history. He has played for Team USA in three different Olympics, first earning a bronze medal on the disappointing 2004 team before winning gold on the 2008 “Redeem Team” and its 2012 successor. But James sat out of the 2016 Olympics after winning a championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and with his career drawing to a close, many wondered if he might give it one last go in 2021 before retiring from international competition.
Unfortunately, James has possibly signaled his decision to not play for Team USA at the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo. “Nah, I think I’m gonna play for the Tune Squad this summer instead of the Olympics,” James said, promoting his upcoming movie Space Jam: A New Legacy.
The film will be James’ first leading role in a major motion picture, and he will likely spend quite a bit of his offseason promoting it. It is set to be released on July 21. After an injury-filled season, it makes more sense for James to spend his offseason resting rather than playing for a medal he’s already won.
But many players are in just as difficult a situation as James when it comes to deciding whether or not they should play for Team USA. The Olympics begin on July 23, only one day after Game 7 of the NBA Finals is scheduled to be played. That should rule out plenty of players who make deep runs into the postseason. Team USA has struggled to fill out its roster in recent competitions as well. The 2019 FIBA World Cup Team was comprised mostly of role players and younger guys as the superstars, who have mostly already competed in the Olympics, declined invitations.
James was once at the forefront of the movement to get superstars back into the Olympics after that 2004 debacle. But he’s now 36 and needs to focus on recovery and his off-court interests. James is still fighting for NBA titles, but it seems as if he’s satisfied with the two gold medals he already has.