LeBron James was named one of 44 finalists for the U.S. Olympic basketball team on Monday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will accept a roster spot come June.
“My name is in the hat, and It’s always predicated on, one, my body, how my body’s feeling at the end of the season. I hope to make it a long playoff run,” James said after the Los Angeles Lakers’ 125-100 win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. “Then where my mind is, and then where my family’s head is. So there’s a lot of factors, but my name is in the hat.”
James’ stance sounded unchanged from before the NBA season, when he also stopped short of saying he planned to be in Tokyo.
“Team USA? Um … I don’t know,” he 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 Pop [Gregg Popovich].”
At 35, James will be older come the Tokyo Opening Ceremony than all but one previous U.S. Olympic men’s basketball player: Larry Bird in 1992.
He skipped the 2016 Rio Games to rest after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA title. Other stars also missed the Rio Olympics for various reasons, including Stephen Curry, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, all fellow Tokyo finalists.
Perhaps a player even more valuable to Team USA is James’ Lakers teammate Anthony Davis. Davis said Monday night that he did not know whether he would accept a roster spot.
“I’m getting old,” the 26-year-old said, smiling.
Davis spoke at greater length when asked before the season.
“I want to play USA Basketball,” he said Sept. 27. “If I get the opportunity to do so, they invite me, I definitely would love to do so. So, hopefully, guys are listening. So Pop, I’m ready.”
If the U.S. is thin anywhere, it’s at center. Neither of the 2016 Olympic centers is a Tokyo finalist (injured DeMarcus Cousins and healthy DeAndre Jordan). Outside of Davis, none of the NBA’s All-Star centers this season are Americans: Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Rudy Gobert (France), Nikola Jokic (Serbia) and Domantas Sabonis (Lithuania).
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