LeBron James didn’t take part in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, and there were rumors a few years ago that James was done with USA Basketball. However, USA Basketball executive director Jerry Colangelo left the door open for LeBron to return for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“Well, I think LeBron wants to be part of it,” said Colangelo. “You know, when you talk about LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo [Anthony], they were the four young players who were, what, 19 years old, 20 at the best, who were added to the roster when some people dropped out at the last minute. They weren’t quite ready for prime time, if you think back. They just weren’t, and it’s a little bit of a disservice in some ways, but the NBA was looking to promote young, up and coming stars, and I get that. That’s one of the reasons why I was asked to take over the program. I said, ‘Look, I’ll do it, but it has to be complete autonomy, no more committees, no more politics. I’ll pick the coaches, I’ll pick the players if I’m going to be responsible.’ That’s the only way you can really turn the program and make it successful. So, we deal with it as it comes.”
LeBron has participated in the last three Summer Olympics, winning bronze in 2004 and gold in 2008 and 2012. He was second on the team in scoring and assists, third in rebounding, and first in blocks and steals in 2008. His scoring dipped a bit in the 2012 Olympics, but he played more of a facilitator role (led the team in assists) with Kevin Durant taking over a big scoring role.
Having James around would obviously make Team USA much better, but it remains to be seen if he wants to make the commitment given all the miles he’s logged over the past few years. Even if he doesn’t play in the Olympics, Team USA still has plenty of talent and would remain the favorite to win gold.