NBA rumors: Steph Curry, league stars unlikely to play in Tokyo Games

Brian Witt
·3 min read

Steph Curry has three NBA championship rings and two NBA MVP trophies to his name, putting him in very exclusive company. But there's one thing he has yet to win that so many basketball players dream of, and it's sounding like he might not get the opportunity to check that box anytime soon.

Curry, of course, has never participated in the Olympics. He is a two-time FIBA World Cup gold medalist, but he ultimately sat out the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro where Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Team USA won gold.

Curry, Thompson and Green were all included among the 44 finalists for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball team that was announced back in February, before the coronavirus pandemic brought the sports world to a screeching halt. There's no question that Curry in particular would be part of the 12-man group headed to the 2021 Tokyo Games if Team USA was sending its very best.

However, it's sounding like that won't be the case. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, there is increasing skepticism about the NBA's elite players participating in the Olympics, due to the fact that the league has other priorities in hopes of playing a full season next year with fans in attendance.

"For now," Wojnarowski wrote Saturday, "here's one idea on the league's whiteboard, sources said: If the NBA believes it can significantly push back the start of the season to buy time on getting fans back into arenas, they've brainstormed the idea of a month-long Olympic break reminiscent of how the NHL has handled the Winter Olympics.

"As the pandemic rages on, there's less optimism about the elite players participating in the Olympics -- including Americans and international stars. The NBA and NBPA will take positions that the Games are important, but the Olympics are barely a priority for the owners -- especially when they don't share in the television revenue that originates from the inclusion of the league's superstars. Organizations see the wear and tear on players in whom they've invested hundreds of millions of dollars. Amid a pandemic, the Olympics mean even less to owners, team executives and the NBPA."

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Even if Team USA wanted Curry -- and Thompson and Green for that matter -- to play in Tokyo, there's no guarantee any of them would. That trio just got through playing the equivalent of seven NBA seasons while the rest of the league played six, and though the pandemic has created an opportunity for them to recuperate, it's possible they would prefer to save their bodies for NBA competition.

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Of course, being that Curry has yet to participate in an Olympics, perhaps that would be a motivating factor for him to do so. He expressed as much of a desire as recently as March. But as Wojnarowski explained, there are large forces working against that possibility, and Team USA might look much different than it would in a non-pandemic year.

"At a minimum," Wojnarowski continued, "Team USA probably will have to be prepared to bring a much younger, less accomplished roster to Tokyo -- a team profile that could ultimately mirror the rest of the world's entries, too."

Obviously, plenty can and will happen between now and the Tokyo Games. But barring significant progress made in stemming COVID-19, it's looking increasingly unlikely that Curry and other NBA stars will be a part of them.

NBA rumors: Steph Curry, league stars unlikely to play in Tokyo Games originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area