LeBron James is one of the most decorated Olympians in basketball history. He has two gold medals playing for Team USA, one for the 2008 redeem team and another for their repeat performance at the 2012 Olympics. Throw in his 2004 bronze medal and James is one of only three Americans to with three total Olympic medals (joining David Robinson and Carmelo Anthony, who has a record four).
But James sat out the 2016 Olympics after winning his third NBA championship — and first with the Cleveland Cavaliers — and now, with the 2021 Olympics looming, James has again opted against wearing the red, white and blue. This time, he will spend his offseason recovering from an ankle injury suffered in March and promoting his upcoming film, “Space Jam: A New Legacy.” At 36-years-old, this might have been LeBron’s last chance to add to his medal collection. He will be 39 when the 2024 Olympics come around, and Team USA director Jerry Colangelo believes that by then, James’ time as an Olympian will be over.
“You know, Father Time takes its toll,” Colangelo said on Wednesday’s Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin Show. “If you’re a human being, your body is built to go so long depending on what your sport is, and then it’s a downhill situation. LeBron made choices these last couple of Olympics not to participate because he’s got a lot of things going on in his life. So he put in his time, he made a contribution that is appreciated, but I think his time is over.”
Foreign teams regularly use players near the end of their professional careers. Pau Gasol, for instance, will turn 41 before playing for Spain in the upcoming Olympics. But the Team USA talent pool is so deep that the American roster almost never has players in their late 30s. Kevin Durant is the oldest player set to suit up for Team USA in Tokyo at 32. James would be 39 at the time of the 2024 Olympics.
That doesn’t mean he won’t be an Olympic-quality player at that stage of his career. Had the Olympics taken place in 2020 as originally expected, James could have played for Team USA as the reigning Finals MVP and consensus best player in basketball. He was the MVP favorite when he got hurt this season. James could easily still be a star at 39, and is such a revered figure in basketball history that few would object to his presence on the American roster even if he wasn’t. If he wants to play in the 2024 Olympics, I doubt Team USA would object.
But as Colangelo says, James is busy. He’s played in the Olympics three times already and has a number of other interests and off-court ventures to attend to in the offseason. Even if James is capable of playing in the Olympics again, it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll want to, and if that’s the case, he’ll retire as one of the greatest players in Team USA history.
new source: cbssports