LeBron James answers Olympics question by promoting ‘Space Jam’

LeBron James
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LeBron James promoted his upcoming movie when asked if he will play at the Tokyo Olympics after his Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated from the NBA Playoffs.

“I think I’m going to play for the Tune Squad this summer instead of the Olympics,” James, referencing “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” said with a straight face before later smiling in his answer late Thursday night after a season-ending defeat to the Phoenix Suns. “I think that’s what my focus [is] on, trying to beat the Monstars, or the Goon Squad we call them now. So, didn’t have much success versus the Suns, so now I am gearing my attention to the Goon Squad here in July, mid-July.”

To be clear, the movie is due out in theaters in July, so filming has long since finished.

James, who at 36 is older than any previous U.S. Olympic men’s basketball player, said getting his injured ankle back to 100 percent is “the most important thing” for him this summer.

“I’ve got like three months to recalibrate,” he said in a perhaps more telling comment about his Tokyo prospects. The Olympics open in the middle of that time frame.

“I’m going to let the ankle rest for about a month,” James said later, “and then gear up with Lola, Taz, Granny, Bugs and the rest of the crew.”

James played at the Olympics in 2004, 2008 and 2012 before skipping the 2016 Rio Games to rest after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA title.

He has been asked about the Tokyo Olympics several times since then but never committed, though having the respected Gregg Popovich as the new U.S. head coach made it appealing.

No NBA superstar has publicly committed to or taken his name out of consideration for the U.S. Olympic team.

Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers has come the closest to saying he would accept a roster spot if offered. Leonard previously played for Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs, but the Clippers are still alive in the playoffs and will likely advance to the conference semifinals.

The farther a team goes, the less likely it is the player makes himself available for the Olympics given the proximity to the July 23 Opening Ceremony.

In February, FIBA said that it and the IOC were reviewing a USA Basketball petition to change the rules for when Olympic men’s basketball rosters must be submitted.

ESPN reported that USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said U.S. officials asked to allow roster changes closer to and even during the Olympics.

The NBA season started later and runs later this year. A potential NBA Finals Game 7 would be the day before the Opening Ceremony.

The current deadline for nations to submit Olympic teams is July 5, though there is a late athlete replacement policy that extends closer to the start of competition. This usually comes into play for injuries.

“These are not normal times. Rosters by a certain date doesn’t make any sense,” Colangelo said, according to ESPN.com. “What we’re seeking is flexibility to substitute players very late and to get the best players on the court. It doesn’t just apply to us but for all the countries.”

Complicating matters further, USA Basketball plans to hold a player training camp in early July in Las Vegas during the playoffs.

“It’s conceivable, there will be a few players who are competing in the Finals and want to participate, and we want them to participate,” Colangelo said, according to USA Today last week. “We’ll take inventory after each round. It’s possible that we don’t end up with 12 in Las Vegas, and we bring a couple of guys at the last minute.”

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Valencia Marathon produces historic times in men’s, women’s races

2022 Valencia Marathon
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Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum and Ethiopian Amane Beriso won the Valencia Marathon and became the third-fastest man and woman in history, respectively.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old in his marathon debut, won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds. The only men to ever run faster over 26.2 miles are legends: Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 world record, plus a 2:01:39) and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

Kipchoge made his marathon debut at age 28, and Bekele at 31.

Beriso, a 31-year-old whose personal best was 2:20:48 from January 2016, stunned the women’s field Sunday by running 2:14:58. The only women to have run faster: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18).

Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey finished second in 2:16:49, the fastest-ever time for a woman in her marathon debut. Gidey is the world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Valencia is arguably the top annual marathon outside of the six World Marathon Majors. The next major marathon is Tokyo on March 5.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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