After winning two Olympic Gold medals. and adding a Bronze in both the Olympic games and the Basketball World Cup, it seems like LeBron James has had enough with USA Basketball and the ongoing Dream Teams, focusing on his NBA career and resting from it during the summer from now on.
After three consecutive trips to the NBA finals and summer that are quite busy even without having to play for the national team, James is reaching that point in his life, after a decade in the league and turning 30 in 16 months, that’s it’s time to start giving up on some things.
There’s also Jerry Colangelo announcing that Kevin Durant, is more or less, the new face of USA basketball. Durant was the best player on the team that one the 2010 World Cup and has already declared he’ll play in that competition, along with Kevin Love, but he was also Team USA’s top scorer in the London Olympics, making him taking the leader and top-dog role quite natural.
No one is counting out James playing in 2016, but he’ll be nearly 32 by then, and maybe injury concerns will be much more of an issue than they are now, as James has never played less than 75 games in a season except for the strike shortened season of 2011-2012. After winning the Gold Medal he and many other Redeem Team members skipped on playing in the 2010 World Cup, but came back for the 2012 Olympics.
With that summer looking quite far away at the moment, it’s easier saying no than actually accepting it is over. When suddenly the chance to win a third Olympic Gold medal will come up, his opinion on the matter will be very different, even if it means making some changes on the newly formed squad. For James, as long as there is no sharp decline in his ability as he enters his 11th NBA season, there will always be a place on a USA basketball team.
His other Big Three teammates might also have played their final games for Team USA. Dwyane Wade seems to be playing through some sort of injury every time he’s been on the floor for the last couple of seasons, and Chris Bosh, also completing his first decade in the league, should be another who can benefit from greatly from having more rest during the summer. Chris Paul has been another name mentioned as someone who after winning in two Olympic games might decide it’s time to pave the way for younger players.
After all, while gathering Olympic medals is nice, the bread & butter for every player is in the league, and with the Miami Heat running out time to make the most of the seasons they have left with the big three together (maybe only one more), focusing solely on their franchise careers instead of international ones seems like the most normal choice anyone might make. There’s plenty of talent to fill in for James, even if it’s not exactly the same thing. American basketball is strong enough to win even without its best player.