Kevin Durant all-in on 2024 Paris Olympics; LeBron James, other NBA stars discuss interest
Kevin Durant committed to the 2024 Paris Games, should USA Basketball want him for a fourth Olympics.
The question to be answered over, likely, the next eight months: which NBA superstars will join him?
Durant left no doubt of his intention on Monday, the preseason media day for many NBA teams. Players across the league were asked their interest level in Team USA.
While many players hedged, Durant went all-in: “I will play in the Olympics next year,” he said.
That’s little surprise.
Durant led the U.S. in points per game at the last three Olympics, and in Tokyo broke Carmelo Anthony’s career Olympic points record for an American man. Durant is up to 436 points. Anthony scored 336 in nine more games.
Come Paris, Durant can break the record of oldest U.S. Olympic male basketball player, held by Larry Bird, who was 35 at the 1992 Barcelona Games. Durant will be an older 35 next summer.
LeBron James is already 38 and a three-time Olympian. But he didn’t play at the Olympics in 2016 (resting after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA title) or 2021 (no reason publicly announced for his non-selection or declined invitation).
On Monday, James repeated in interviews that he has interest. Beyond that?
“There’s a lot to be had here with the Lakers, obviously, in this season,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”
James touched on a report from last month that he called other NBA stars to recruit them to play at the 2024 Paris Games.
“We’ve been in communication,” James told ESPN without naming names.
One of them could be Stephen Curry, the biggest star yet to play in an Olympics. Curry repeated his desire while not fully committing like Durant.
“I’ve talked to some people about the opportunity and definitely, if all things stay the same, I want to be playing,” he said. “It’s the one thing I haven’t done and also understand the opportunity for Team USA to kind of reassert theirselves as dominant in the world and all that type of stuff, so definitely want to be there, definitely want to be on the team. Hopefully things line up that way.”
Curry’s head coach on the Golden State Warriors is Steve Kerr, who doubles as the national team head coach.
Last month, an American team with zero All-NBA players or Olympians finished fourth at the FIBA World Cup, losing three games at a global championship for the first time since the 2004 Athens Games.
Similarly in 2019, a U.S. team lacking superstars finished seventh at the World Cup. A more decorated roster then went to the Tokyo Games and won a fourth consecutive Olympic title (the most competitive of those four).
The weakest U.S. position — by All-NBA selections — in recent years is center.
Anthony Davis is the lone American to make an All-NBA first, second or third team at center in the last six seasons, but like Lakers teammate James hasn’t played at the Olympics since 2012.
Davis was also asked his interest in Paris 2024 on Monday.
“I have no idea yet,” he said.
De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings, one of four American guards to make an All-NBA team last season, was less enamored.
“Things can change in the future. Right now it’s not something I’m worried about,” he said.