After Team USA qualified for the 2024 Olympics (before their fourth-place finish in the 2023 FIBA World Cup), LeBron James now wants to suit up for the Paris games. The King has also called other superstars to join him, as The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Joe Vardon reported Monday.
The moves, if they come to fruition, would provide a major boost for USA Basketball. They have won four straight gold medals as of 2020 but found limited success in previous World Cups. Their recent squad in Manila featured many of the league’s young talent. It was headlined by reigning Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero and Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr., along with Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, Mikal Bridges and Austin Reaves, among others.
Charania and Vardon’s sources noted:
“[N]ot only will the Paris team look different from the one that just finished the World Cup, but the next iteration [is] likely to come with considerably more star power.”
NBA Rumors: LeBron James, Other Superstars Want to Play in 2024 Olympics
Aside from James—a three-time Olympian and two-time gold medalist—the reported list of 2024 Olympic recruits includes Steph Curry (would-be first-time Olympian), Kevin Durant (three-time gold medalist and Team USA’s All-Time Leading Scorer), Anthony Davis (2012 gold medalist), Draymond Green (two-time gold medalist) and Jayson Tatum (2020 gold medalist). All of them are reportedly ready to commit.
Additionally, Devin Booker, De’Aaron Fox, Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving are seriously interested in joining. The latter two hold previous Olympic experience and a gold medal each—Irving in 2016 and Lillard in 2020.
The chance to compete in Paris holds significant value for James, Curry and Durant, who all consider 2024 to be their “last dance” with Team USA, according to The Athletic.
Also, if James and his contacts commit, it would leave only six spots open (four if Lillard and Booker play). Potential candidates for open positions include Bam Adebayo and Desmond Bane—both of whom almost played in this year’s World Cup—and reigning MVP Joel Embiid—who could elect to play for Team France instead.
Impact on Team USA and 2024 Olympics
The latest reports about Team USA are not surprising, given their recent struggles since striking gold in 2020. The Olympic squad could continue their momentum with elite star power. It would also add to USA Basketball’s storied history and serve as a perfect bookend for some players’ Olympic careers.
It’s also worth noting that some of the younger players who competed under Steve Kerr in Manila may also garner consideration for next year’s roster—a fact that Kerr himself recently addressed (via The Athletic):
“[P]art of the deal with USAB is you pass the baton on to the next coaching staff, the next group of players…We’re unique in that we have a deep talent pool and a lot of very worthy players and I think those players and coaches all deserve to have the honor of wearing this USA jersey.”
There are some impressive World Cup members who could very well suit up for Team USA if given the chance. Edwards and Bridges are two names to watch. When asked about playing in the Olympics, both players affirmed a desire to represent the U.S. on the world stage.
Any players from the World Cup roster would sufficiently help USA Basketball. Adding some youthful experience is key for a star-studded, veteran-laden team. Team USA is set to face off against fellow Olympic qualifiers Germany, Serbia and Canada—all of whom have plenty of NBA talent in their own right. The remaining 12 spots will be filled through Qualifying Tournaments happening next July.
The Last Word
Though it’s still too early to determine how next year’s Olympic team will look, there’s some assurance from James and other superstars that Team USA is still ready to dominate. For James, Curry and Durant, the timing could not be better. The trio could play one last time while passing the baton to the rest of the league’s stars.