CLEVELAND: Stephen Curry says the Zika virus was not a factor in deciding against going to the Rio Olympics, while LeBron James and Kyrie Irving will wait until after the NBA Finals to decide about playing for the US team.
The stars of the ongoing NBA Finals spoke a day after Curry, the two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, announced he will not play for the defending champion US squad in Rio, citing injuries and fatigue after back-to-back finals runs.
“I knew the developments and kind of understanding the problem with the Zika virus, but it had no bearing on my decision,” Curry said.
“It was assessing my body and knowing what it was going to take for me to finish this playoff run, and considering the injuries I’ve had in the last few weeks in the playoffs, and the short timeframe in between the finals and Team USA training camp and then the timeframe after that for me personally — was going to be a lot to get my body ready for with another year coming up.”
Cleveland star James, who sparked US gold medal efforts in 2008 at Beijing and 2012 in London, and teammate Irving, who has led US teams to consecutive Basketball World Cup crowns to qualify for the Olympics, will wait until the best-of-seven NBA championship series ends before deciding.
“I’m just now hearing about Steph pulling out, but my decision has never been on anyone either playing on the team or being invited or not playing,” James said.
“I haven’t made a decision yet and I probably will make it right after the series is over.”
Irving also said Curry’s decision will not have an impact on his own.
“I’m in a series right now. Once that’s over, I’ll sit down and decide,” Irving said. “It’s just whatever’s best, I feel, after this crucial finals is done.
“We’re in a hell of a series right now, so I haven’t really thought about it, but I did see Steph pull his name out, which you just respect a guy like that. It’s his decision.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said that it was the right one for Curry, even though he has won two world titles but never played in the Olympics.
“I was not consulted. That’s Steph’s decision. As his coach I’m pleased. He needs rest,” Kerr said.
“Two straight years going to the finals. He has had injuries not only this year but in the past. I think rest will serve him really well, but it’s up to each individual player if he wants the experience or not.
“That’s a tough choice because being in the Olympics is a great honor, but I think for Steph, I think he weighed all the dynamics and realized that a summer of rest would be the best thing for him long-term. And I think that’s the wise choice.”
Zika minor Thompson concern
Klay Thompson, Curry’s fellow 3-point sharpshooter on the reigning NBA champions, would love to go to Brazil, however, and he has little concern about Zika.
“A little bit, I’m not going to lie to you,” Thompson said. “Mosquitos love me. I grew up in Oregon. I felt like I was always getting bit. So it’s no joking matter, but it’s a little concerning.
“You’ve just got to take the precautionary steps to avoid it. But it’s not going to deter me from going. Obviously, I would still love to go represent my country.”
The Olympics have been a dream since childhood for Thompson.
“I hope to play for Team USA. It would be a great honor. Just thinking about the Olympics gives me butterflies just because that’s a dream I’ve always had as a kid,” he said.