OAKLAND, United States: NBA MVP Stephen Curry announced on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) he will not play in this summer’s Rio Olympics, stating he plans to skip the event in order to concentrate on his fitness.
Curry, who at the weekend said he would wait until the end of the NBA playoffs before making a decision, said he had decided to withdraw from the USA’s preliminary squad after consulting with his family, advisors and team officials.
“After a great deal of internal thought and several discussions with my family, the Warriors and my representatives, I’ve elected to withdraw my name from the list of eligible players on Team USA’s preliminary roster for the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil,” the 28-year-old Golden State Warriors star said in a statement.
Curry, who is on course to help the Warriors clinch back-to-back NBA Finals titles after helping them into a 2-0 lead against Cleveland on Sunday, has never played an Olympics.
His postseason was interrupted by a knee injury during the first round against the Houston Rockets which led to him missing four games.
“My previous experiences with USA Basketball have been incredibly rewarding, educational and enjoyable, which made this an extremely difficult decision for me and my family,” Curry said.
“However, due to several factors — including recent ankle and knee injuries — I believe this is the best decision for me at this stage of my career.
“It’s an incredible honor to represent your country and wear ‘USA’ on your chest, but my primary basketball-related objective this summer needs to focus on my body and getting ready for the 2016-17 NBA season.”
Curry would have been a certainty to be selected for the USA team if available.
He has played a starring role in the Warriors record-breaking 73-win season, smashing his own record for three-pointers with 402.
He became the first player in history to be unanimously voted as the NBA’s MVP, winning the title for a second straight year.
US media reports speculated Curry’s withdrawal may be linked to his upcoming free agency in 2017, when he will be able to negotiate a new contract likely to make him one of the league’s highest earners.
Curry has been on a relatively modest contract since 2013, and currently earns around $11.4 million a year, making him only the 67th highest earner in the NBA, according to basketball news website hoopshype.com.
That contrasts sharpy with the league’s highest earning players, with LeBron James earning around $23 million a season.
Although several athletes across different sports have cited the Zika virus crisis as a reason for skipping Rio, Curry made no mention of the disease in his statement.
The USA will pick a 12-man roster for the Rio Games in June before gathering in Las Vegas in July for a training camp.