LeBron James, who cemented his status as an NBA great in leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the championship this month, won’t play for the USA at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
USA Basketball named a 12-man squad for the Games on Monday that didn’t include James, confirming last week’s reports that he had withdrawn from consideration for the team.
Cleveland star guard Kyrie Irving, who played a key role alongside James in bringing the first sports title to Cleveland since 1964 with the Cavs’ seven-game NBA Finals victory over the Golden State Warriors, is on the 12-man squad that will try to bring a third straight Olympic gold home to the United States.
Irving was the Most Valuable Player in the 2014 FIBA Cup.
The New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony becomes the first man to represent USA Basketball in four Olympics and will try to become the first American man with three gold medals after playing on victorious US teams in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.
And Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant will go for another gold.
As the NBA playoffs were winding up, however, news of the Olympic team focused largely on who wouldn’t play.
A flurry of reports last week signalled that James was joining an All-Star line-up of talent in opting out.
“I could use the rest,” James told Cleveland.com of his decision, citing the grind of having logged so much court time through six consecutive trips to the NBA Finals.
NBA Most Valuable Player and scoring leader Stephen Curry of Golden State said during the finals that he would not play in Rio.
Star guards Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City, Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and James Harden of Houston also backed out of consideration, as did San Antonio forward LaMarcus Aldridge, Washington forward John Wall, Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Anthony Davis of New Orleans.
Portland’s Damian Lillard opted out in order to rehabilitate a plantar fascitis injury. Utah forward Gordon Hayward and San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard also withdrew from consideration.