Fans of Team USA should not expect to see LeBron James wearing red, white and blue again, USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo told ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin on Wednesday.
“You know, Father Time takes its toll,” Colangelo said of the 36-year-old star. “… If you’re a human being, your body is built to go so long depending on what your sport is, and then it’s a downhill situation. LeBron made choices these last couple of Olympics not to participate because he’s got a lot of things going on in his life. So he put in his time, he made a contribution that is appreciated, but I think his time is over.”
James has opted out of the past two Olympic cycles, though he told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in 2016 that “Every time I watch ’em, I wish I was out there,” while Team USA won gold in Rio de Janeiro.
James has 68 games and three Olympics of international experience with Team USA. He joined USA Basketball for the 2004 Games in Athens, where the Americans lost their opener to Puerto Rico, dropped two more games and settled for bronze. He returned on the 2008 Redeem Team and won gold in Beijing, then captured another gold medal four years later in London.
The Team USA squad for the Tokyo Games has only two players returning from 2016 — Kevin Durant and Draymond Green — while the inclusion of Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, a former teammate of James’, has drawn some of the highest scrutiny.
But Colangelo defended Love’s addition to the roster, saying that Team USA needed another big man and that the American pipeline lacks as many options there.
“Most of the bigs in the NBA are international players. They’re not American players. … We haven’t developed bigs the way they have in other countries,” Colangelo told Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin, adding that having the extra big man could be viewed as “insurance.”