NEW YORK: LeBron James, who cemented his status as an NBA great in leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the championship this month, won’t play for the USA at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
USA Basketball named a 12-man squad for the Games on Monday that didn’t include James, confirming last week’s reports that he had withdrawn from consideration for the team.
Cleveland star guard Kyrie Irving, who played a key role alongside James in bringing the first sports title to Cleveland since 1964 with the Cavs’ seven-game NBA Finals victory over the Golden State Warriors, is on the 12-man squad that will try to bring a third straight Olympic gold home to the United States.
Irving was the Most Valuable Player in the 2014 FIBA Cup.
The New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony becomes the first man to represent USA Basketball in four Olympics and will try to become the first American man with three gold medals after playing on victorious US teams in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.
And Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant will go for another gold four years after setting a US Olympic record with an average of 19.5 points per game in London.
“I think I can speak for the entire coaching staff and say we’re extremely excited about the team we will field for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro,” said Jerry Colangelo, managing director of the USA Men’s national team. “I love our depth, which is another indication of the depth of talent our national team program is blessed with. We’ve got a great mix of talent, scorers, past gold medal winners and outstanding youth.”
The squad also includes Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes of the Golden State Warriors — who racked up a record 73 regular-season wins before falling to Cleveland in the title series.
Nine players—Anthony, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins, DeMar DeRozan, Durant, Paul George, Green, Kyle Lowry and Thompson—were 2016 NBA All-Stars.
But the talent pool has been reduced by a raft of defections by NBA stars, with James topping the list of those opting out.