The competition for the 12 spots on Team USA heading into the 2024 Olympics is going to be tough.
When NBA teams gathered Monday for media day, there was a flurry of public commitments to the United States for the upcoming games in Paris. Last month, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was reportedly recruiting other stars to join him on the national team – and it appears he has a 100% success rate.
The 38-year-old reported “strong” interest in playing for Team USA arrived shortly after Team USA’s Unusual Fourth Place at FIBA Basketball World Cup. He contacted teammate Anthony Davis, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics and Kevin Durant of the Phoenix Suns, according to Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Warriors forward Draymond Green had already expressed his desire to play, and all of the other aforementioned stars did the same during media day.
Suns guards Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo and Clippers star Kawhi Leonard were also among the leading Americans who used Monday to publicly express their availability for the next summer.
The U.S. World Cup team this year did not include any players with Olympic experience, and only three of them were NBA All-Stars. While James’ desire to compete in another Olympics reportedly had nothing to do with the World Cup, his alleged recruiting efforts largely targeted players with Games experience.
Durant has competed in the last three Olympics and was MVP of the 2020 gold medal team. Green has competed in the last two Olympics. Davis won gold with Team USA in 2012, as did Tatum in 2020.
Curry is the lone exception, but he’s no stranger to international competition. He won the World Cup with Team USA in 2010 and 2014. On Monday, he recognized the opportunity to help Team USA reassert its dominance on the world stage when asked about the Games Olympics.
“That’s the only thing I didn’t do,” Curry added. “I really want to be part of the team.”
“I want to play. That’s the only thing I didn’t do. … I really want to be there, I really want to be part of the team.
Steph Curry on the 2024 Olympics 👀 pic.twitter.com/SPuENNASfe
– NBA TV (@NBATV) October 2, 2023
For Durant, another Olympic victory would make him the first men’s basketball player to win four Olympic gold medals.
“I’m going to the Olympics next year,” he resoundingly declared at the Suns’ media day.
DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls have indicated they would play if asked. Brown, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, Milwaukee Bucks forwards Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, New York Knicks forward Julius Randle, Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon, Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, Booker and Beal all shared this sentiment. Kyrie Irving said the same thing at Dallas Mavericks media day last week.
The abundance of talent will make James’ job easier, he noted Monday when asked about efforts to add to his two Olympic gold medals.
“Based on the players we have here in mind that could fill out this roster, I don’t think it would be too physically heavy,” he said. said. “I wouldn’t have much to do. Rebound a little, pass a little, defend, block a few shots, you know? But we’ll see. We’ll see what happens.”
In addition to the media day providing an unexpected glimpse into the potential Olympic field, the team call-ups also gave us more details than ever on Joel Embiid. The Philadelphia 76ers MVP still doesn’t know if he will play for Cameroon, France or the United States next summer.
“My goal is to play in the Olympics. I like all three options. Cameroon, I was born there, I’m from there and I always want to represent my country. But the goal is also to play in the Olympics. If we had a chance, or if we qualify for the Olympics, it will be an easy decision,” he said. said. “But it’s still up in the air (because Cameroon still has to qualify for the field of 12 Parisian teams next July). And I really want to play in the Olympics.”
France gave him a deadline of October 10which could leave him with only two options.
(Update: Embiid committed to Team USA THURSDAY.)
Other stars choose to focus on the upcoming season
With Booker and Irving, the Sacramento Kings’ De’Aaron Fox and Milwaukee’s new addition Damian Lillard would have had a “a serious interest” at the Olympics without being recruited by James. Lillard has yet to discuss his plans for next summer, while Fox answered some questions about the Summer Games on Monday.
Fox, who led the Kings to their first playoff appearance since 2006 last season, had to “think of a good way” to say he wasn’t thinking about the U.S. team during media day.
“Right now, I really don’t care what’s going on with Team USA,” he added.
Earlier Monday, the reigning Clutch Player of the Year expressed the common goal of the franchise to win his first NBA title in 72 seasons. In 2019, the speedy guard withdrew from selection for the FIBA World Cup after being recalled. He cited a desire focus on preparing for this season.
Atlanta’s Trae Young had a similar goal heading into training camp. He wants to play for America, but feels snubbed when he didn’t make the World Cup squad. A championship is his biggest goal.
“If you don’t think I was disrespected, you’re just not telling the truth,” Young said. told reporters during media day. “But, I mean, it’s okay. For me, I just want to keep it basic and just win. I know when I win a championship, this whole thing is going to take care of itself.”
Although it appears that the stage is being set for a historic international exit for the United States, the NBA season is long enough for the situation of each of the players involved to change.
There’s no guarantee who will make the list, but whoever lands a spot will have to help bring home the United States’ fifth consecutive gold medal.
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