LAS VEGAS – LeBron James admits he's tired. The NBA's compressed season after the lockout followed by the Miami Heat's playoff run to the championship have worn on him, and he barely had a week off before reporting to Team USA's Olympic training camp.
But rest? LeBron isn't thinking about getting rest.
He's focused only on getting his second gold medal.
"Tomorrow is not promised, man, and this opportunity right here is not guaranteed each and every year," LeBron said. "I got to live in the moment. I can't say, 'If I'm going to play now, what will happen to me next year?' I'm not worried about that right now."
This is LeBron's third Olympics. He helped Team USA win the gold in 2008 in Beijing. His Heat teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh withdrew from Team USA after the NBA Finals, citing injuries. After winning his third MVP award and carrying the Heat through much of the playoffs, James could have been forgiven for also declining to play in London.
USA Basketball executive director Jerry Colangelo said he never got a call from James' representatives saying he might withdraw. And Colangelo never worried he would.
"I love the game. I love basketball," James said. "I made a commitment to be a part of this team and I’m fulfilling that."
James averaged 37.5 minutes during the regular season, last season, the fewest of his career. He was much busier during the playoffs, averaging 42.7 minutes a game. He will be tested during the Olympics, and will likely play at least three positions, including center.
James isn't worried about the physical toll he'll take during the Olympics. Team USA's roster is deep enough to keep his minutes down. Coach Mike Krzyzewski also said he is keeping James' practice load light.
"I’m tired," James said. "I would love to get more rest, and I've said that throughout the playoffs. I said that throughout the regular season. There is not enough rest out there to even get. But I’m happy to be here though."
Fatigue or injury wasn’t a problem for Kobe Bryant in the 2008 Olympics after he and the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics in the '08 Finals. The following season, he led the Lakers to the NBA championship.
"Most guys are going to play over the summertime anyways," Bryant said. "They’re going to train and play pickup basketball. The Olympic team, you’re not playing that many minutes. You’re playing a little bit in practice. You have a training staff around the clock. It's not as tough as people make it out to be."
Since winning his first championship, James also has had plenty of demand on his time from off-court interests. After a recent Team USA practice, he met with the media for 30 minutes, did a 2½-hour Sprite promotion followed by four sit-down interviews and ended the day by holding a dinner for the LeBron James Skills Academy.
Maverick Carter, whose LRMR company handles James' marketing, said they have made it easier on the Heat star by bringing his business meetings to him. Sprite did its promotional work upstairs from the gym where Team USA practiced. Nike also moved James' annual camp to Las Vegas instead of having it in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
"Our priority every off-season is making sure LeBron is able to focus on doing what he needs to do," Carter said. "Whether it's rest, training, or being with family, every commitment is built around his offseason objectives. It's how we've done it every summer since he came to the NBA."
Team USA's last Olympic game will be Aug. 12 if they play for the gold medal. While that would leave James roughly about a month and a half to rest and get ready for next season with the Heat, all his energy is focused toward London right now.
"I can't worry about next season," James said.
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