The 2020-2021 sports season has definitely been an absurd one, especially for basketball. Injuries stymied the progress and typical flow of NBA Playoffs, two underdog teams are currently competing for the 2021 championship, and to top it all off, many of the NBA stars have refused opportunities to compete for Team USA at the end of July.
Here are 3 of the biggest NBA stars who will not be going to Tokyo for the Summer Olympics.
1. LeBRON JAMES
LeBron James had a rough season. After suffering an ankle injury in May, he was forced to take a six-week hiatus to heal and rehabilitate. After the Los Angeles Lakers’ Game 6 loss to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, James took to social media to promote his new film, “Space Jam: A New Legacy.”
“No, I think I’m going to play for the Toon Squad this summer instead of the Olympics. I think that’s what I’ll focus on, trying to beat the Monstars or the Goon Squad, we call them now.” – LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers forward
Though the fact that he will not compete in the Olympics, James could surely use a period of rest, recovery, and relaxation.
2. CHRIS PAUL
The Phoenix Suns are currently competing in the NBA Finals, and that means Chris Paul has declined his Tokyo invitation. According to ESPN, Game 7 of the Finals is set for July 22, and Team USA’s opening Olympic game against France is July 25. This would mean virtually no rest for Paul, as he would be forced to jump from the NBA Finals directly into the Olympics, which is a harrowing, demanding, stressful task. As of now, Paul has chosen to focus on getting his first NBA Championship win by declining the offer to play for Team USA in Tokyo.Chris Paul is still playing in the middle of the NBA Finals, and at 36, this will make his transition to the Summer Olympics and back to the NBA season too gruelling to his body.
3. STEPH CURRY
Contrary to popular belief, Steph Curry has never competed in the Olympics. Initially, the Golden State Warriors‘ franchise player was very excited to receive the opportunity to make his Olympics debut in Tokyo, but he has since changed his mind. Curry is currently competing in the American Century Championship golf tournament.
“It just wasn’t right for me,” He said. “And I’m very confident in that decision. No regrets at all. Obviously, being here, I’m playing golf, having fun with my family. And that’s a personal thing.” – Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors guard
Injuries also play a role in Curry’s decision; he played a couple of games at the end of May with a fractured tailbone. He also spoke about the huge mental toll this year’s season has taken on him personally. Although it is a shame we will not get to witness Curry’s Olympic debut this year, it sounds like he certainly needs some time to breathe and play some golf!
USA! USA! USA!
Team USA will certainly look different this year, with big names like LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Steph Curry watching from the comfort of their own homes, but that does not mean we should be any less excited to watch our basketball team in Tokyo.
Make sure to tune in to the Olympic opening ceremonies on July 23 at 7am EDT on NBC! Go, Team USA!
Allyson Park is a writer and media intern for Knup Sports and the Sports 2.0 Network covering a variety of topics, including football, soccer, and baseball. Connect with Allyson on Instagram @allysonpark01.