LeBron James — in the legacy-building, GOAT resume-padding phase of his career — wants a third Olympic gold medal. Badly.
LeBron is ready to head to Paris to ensure the USA wins a fifth Olympic gold medal and is recruiting other top stars to join him, report Shams Charania and Joe Varden of The Athletic.
LeBron James, a three-time Olympian, two-time gold medalist, and the NBA's all-time leading scorer, has so strong an interest in one more Olympics that he is ready to commit for next summer, and has also called multiple stars to essentially recruit them to join him with USAB in Paris, multiple league sources told The Athletic.
James has spoken to Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Jayson Tatum and Draymond Green, and they are all prepared to commit as well. Separately, Phoenix's Devin Booker, Portland's Damian Lillard, Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox and Dallas' Kyrie Irving also have serious interest in committing, league sources said.
LeBron's effort and interest reportedly started before the USA dropped three of its last four at the World Cup, finishing without a medal. With FIBA choosing to put the World Cup the year before the Olympics, most of America's top players feel the need to choose between the two international tournaments rather than wear down playing essentially two full calendar years between the marathon NBA season and playoffs, the USA commitments. The Americans have chosen Paris.
Curry, who does not have an Olympic gold on his resume, was long expected to play in Paris, and other top stars were expected to follow. The Athletic reports LeBron — who will be age 39 at the time of the games — and Durant (35) see this as a "last dance" with Team USA. Combine those veterans with some young stars who stood out for America at the World Cup — Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, Mikal Bridges, Austin Reaves — and it should be a gold medal roster. That is, if it gets built with a little more balance and defense than was seen in Manilla the past few weeks.
Not everyone interested right now will go to the Olympics due to injuries or deep playoff runs — a relatively early start for the Paris Olympics, with the opening ceremonies on July 26, means a fast turnaround after the NBA Finals — but a lot of guys will want to put the USA across their chest. The Olympics, far more than the World Cup, holds a cache in American culture, and an Olympic gold medal is an expected part of a superstar resume.
Winning gold will not be easy, regardless. The world is catching up to the USA in talent. Germany, the World Cup champions who beat the USA, will be there. So will be silver medalists Serbia, and they expect to add Nikola Jokic to the roster. Canada, loaded with NBA talent and who beat the USA for the bronze at the World Cup, will be there. The list goes on and on. As Steve Kerr said, it's not 1992 anymore and there will be no cakewalk to gold.
However, with a LeBron-led, star-studded roster, the USA will be the team to beat in Paris.