The IOC announced on Friday that 3-on-3 basketball would be a part of the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Speaking to media on Sunday ahead of Game 5 of The Finals, LeBron James was asked if he would be interested in playing in the half court for his country, and he chose to politely, and self-deprecatingly decline the potential offer.
“I’m not very good in a 3-on-3 thing, I’m more of a 5-on-5 guy,” James said. “I stay out of the 1-on-1 matchups during our practice, the 2-on-2s and the 3-on-3s. So probably not. I probably won’t be a part of the 3-on-3 matchup that it has to offer.”
The comments don’t come as a surprise — chances are James won’t be playing full court for Team USA either in 2020, having skipped the 2016 games in Rio after winning consecutive gold medals in 2008 and 2012.
Even if James did want to play, he may not have had an option to do so. According to Dan Patrick, who serves as a host for NBC’s Olympics coverage, pro players will not be permitted on the roster.
“Found out some more information on the 3-on-3 event in the Olympics,” Patrick said on his radio show. “You cannot have professionals. Former professionals [are OK]. You cannot have current professionals. So you cannot get LeBron James to play on your 3-on-3 team.”
It is not clear if the rule Patrick is referring to is for the U.S. Olympic team alone or if that is an IOC rule.
James’ feeling on 3-on-3 basketball seems to be representative of a larger trend across the league as more speculation of potential lineups have taken over the imaginations of NBA fans. As Alex Kennedy, writer for HoopsHype reports, other players wouldn’t want to play either.
While James won’t be partaking in the new sport for himself, he did acknowledge that the addition of 3-on-3 basketball is a step forward for the sport as a whole.
“I think it’s great for basketball,” he said. “For us to be able to add another category to the Olympics, another basketball category, I think it’s pretty great.”
He also was quick to respond when asked by the AP who his dream teammates for the event would be — Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan — although he chose to hedge diplomatically when asked which current players he’d want to team up with, saying he’d “have to think about it.”
The Dream Team of James, Magic, Jordan might never take the court together, but with the Big3 League tipping off later this year, it’s possible that former stars like Allen Iverson and Kenyon Martin make a run to represent the United States in international 3-on-3 competition. And with a 3-on-3 community already thriving in America and representing the States in FIBA competition, there’s also a chance that some amateurs will get the opportunity to play basketball for Team USA.
There’s still a long way to go before Tokyo 2020 and information is still coming in regarding how the team will be selected, but as of now, it’s safe to cross LeBron off this list.
You can watch LeBron’s comments here, via Sports Illustrated.
I talked to people in NBA circles and some star players about Olympics adding 3-on-3. So far, general consensus is NBA stars won’t compete.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 11, 2017
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