LeBron James, Stephen Curry lead finalists for Olympic men’s basketball roster

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LeBron JamesStephen Curry and every active American superstar in the NBA, plus the injured Kevin Durant, headline 44 finalists for the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team. It’s USA Basketball’s largest player pool for 12 roster spots since it began naming finalists in 2008.

The full list of finalists:

Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat)
LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs)
Harrison Barnes
 (Sacramento Kings)
Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)
Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana Pacers)
Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics)
Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat)
Mike Conley Jr. (Utah Jazz)
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)
DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio Spurs)
Andre Drummond (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets)
Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers)
Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers)
Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets)
Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers)
Gordon Hayward (Boston Celtics)
Dwight Howard (Los Angeles Lakers)
Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans)
Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)
LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)
Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers)
Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers)
Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks)
Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)
JaVale McGee (Los Angeles Lakers)
Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)
Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)
Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers)
Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Mason Plumlee (Denver Nuggets)
Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics)
Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers)
Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics)
Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets)
Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs)

Durant, the leading scorer on the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams, will miss the entire NBA season after rupturing an Achilles in June. Every eligible 2020 NBA All-Star is a finalist except Trae Young.

Other notable missing names: Four-time Olympian Carmelo Anthony (retired from international play after Rio), Rio Olympians DeMarcus Cousins (out with an ACL tear) and DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin (knee surgery in January) and John Wall (out since last February due to Achilles surgery).

The final team, expected to be named by selection committee in June, will play with the memory of Kobe Bryant. Bryant was a leader on the 2008 and 2012 Olympic teams that brought the U.S. back to its dominant place in global basketball.

Bryant attended last September’s FIBA World Cup, where the U.S. finished seventh, its worst-ever senior national team tournament result. After that failure, many NBA superstars declared intent to play at the Olympics.

“It’s not a matter of the rest of the world catching up to the U.S.,” Bryant said at the World Cup in China. “The rest of the world has been caught up for quite some time. It’s to the point where us in the U.S. are going to win some, going to lose some. There’s just great basketball being played. Whether it’s Redeem [Team] two, no matter what team it is, it’s not going to be easy.”

After the U.S.’ FIBA World Cup disaster, James stopped short of saying he planned to be in Tokyo. At 35, he will be older come the Tokyo Opening Ceremony than all but one previous U.S. Olympic men’s basketball player (Larry Bird).

“Team USA? Um … I don’t know,” James said on Sept. 27. “See how I can do throughout this season. I will address that at some point, hopefully have an opportunity to have a conversation with coach [Gregg Popovich].”

James, a teammate of Bryant’s in 2008 and 2012, skipped the 2016 Rio Games to rest after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA title. He had been named one of 30 finalists earlier in the year. Other stars also missed the Rio Olympics for various reasons, including Curry, Harden and Westbrook.

In April 2018, James, Durant and Curry headlined the initial 35-player national team pool.

From 1992-2004, a USA Basketball committee chose Olympic teams without naming large pools of finalists. There were 33 finalists in 2008, 22 in 2012 and 30 in 2016.

MORE: Kobe Bryant: Redeem Team 2 might not be enough

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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Mo Farah likely to retire this year

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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