Jayson Tatum and Bradley Beal were thrilled to be teammates on the U.S. men's basketball team participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Then COVID intervened.
Beal was placed in health and safety protocols last week and will miss the Olympics as a result. Beal's absence is a tough blow for Team USA -- especially for Tatum, who is close friends with Beal from growing up together in St. Louis and was excited about finally playing with the Washington Wizards star.
"I was upset," Tatum admitted Thursday morning in a press conference after Team USA arrived in Tokyo. "This was going to be a great opportunity for both of us (playing with each other).
"Unfortunately not going to be able to happen, but looking forward to competing out here and winning a gold medal and making sure we have an extra one for him."
Tatum added that he was "concerned" with Beal's health "first and foremost" and hopes the 28-year-old is doing all right.
Some Boston Celtics fans were hoping Tatum could use the Olympics to recruit Beal, who can opt out of his contract following the 2021-22 season. Both stars have said they've always wanted the chance to play on the same team, so perhaps Beal and Tatum being denied that opportunity in Tokyo will increase their desire to make it happen in the NBA.
Tatum and Team USA will kick off their Olympic slate Sunday morning at 8 a.m. ET against France.