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10 Notable NBA players not participating in 2020 Tokyo Olympics

LeBron James and Stephen Curry at the 2021 NBA All-Star Game
LeBron James and Stephen Curry at the 2021 NBA All-Star Game
Kunal Sethi
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Team USA has always been a juggernaut of basketball talent that easily bags any Olympic medal in the Summer Games. The USA men's national basketball team has an Olympic record of 138-5 since 1936 but has lost two exhibition games in a row, something that has never happened before. It has led to people commenting on the poorly constructed roster filled with NBA stars and whether this team is worse than the country's previous two Olympic teams.

Which NBA stars are not participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?

Several notable NBA stars aren't participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and naturally, everyone is thinking if they could play, Team USA would not have lost those two exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia. Moreover, several NBA stars are from other countries and many aren't competing for their country as well.

Here are 10 notable NBA players not participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

#1 LeBron James

LeBron James at the USA Basketball Men's National Team Training Camp in 2015
LeBron James at the USA Basketball Men's National Team Training Camp in 2015

King James is one of the biggest names in the NBA not to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. LeBron James decided to "play for the Tune Squad" instead of the USA Olympic men's national basketball team, hinting he is focused on the release of his Hollywood venture, "Space Jam: A New Legacy."

Also Checkout: USA Olympic Basketball Team Schedule

However, many believe the release of Space Jam: A New Legacy is just an excuse and the real reason for skipping the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is rest. LeBron James is coming off a compressed 72-game regular season and was injured for the longest stretch of his career this season. He is most likely resting and healing his ankle to prepare for the next NBA season. James has three Olympic medals, one bronze from the 2004 Athens Olympics and two golds from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics.

#2 Nikola Jokic

Nikola Jokic representing Serbia at the 2016 FIBA Olympic Basketball Qualifying Tournament
Nikola Jokic representing Serbia at the 2016 FIBA Olympic Basketball Qualifying Tournament

Nikola Jokic won the 2021 NBA MVP and he is also a huge name missing from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics action. He is not representing the Serbian men's national basketball team. Serbia finished second behind the USA in the 2016 Rio Olympics where Jokic bagged his first-ever Olympic medal.

Nikola Jokic's Serbian teammate and Hawks player Bogdan Bogdanovic is also not suiting up for his country at the 2020 Summer Games.

#3 Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry representing USA at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup
Stephen Curry representing USA at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup

Stephen Curry's announcement that he has decided against playing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was huge news ahead of the training camp. Curry has several accolades under his belt except for an Olympic medal. He decided to heal his injuries during the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and everyone expected him to participate in the 2020 summer games.

Stephen Curry decided that resting and healing his injuries was more valuable at the moment than competing in a grueling Olympic competition. Many experts suggest he is still capable of running for the 2024 Paris Olympics and hasn't ruled out the possibility of an appearance in the future. However, he couldn't risk further injury and chose to utilize his offseason to prepare for the next NBA season.

#4 Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo representing Greece at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup
Giannis Antetokounmpo representing Greece at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup

Two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is not representing Greece at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He turned his game up a notch and has now taken the Milwaukee Bucks to the 2021 NBA Finals. Antetokounmpo is currently one win away from the 2021 NBA championship and naturally, he decided that competing for the NBA title was more important at the moment.

Also Checkout: USA Men's Olympic Basketball Team Roster and Players 2021

Also Check out: USA Men's Olympic Basketball Jersey Numbers

#5 Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving at the 2016 Rio Olympics
Kyrie Irving at the 2016 Rio Olympics

Kyrie Irving injured his right ankle during the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2021 NBA playoffs and now he cannot participate in the Olympics. He landed on top of Giannis Antetokounmpo's foot and was grimacing in pain on the floor. Irving was escorted to the locker room and he was sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs. Irving is another former Olympian who is missing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to injury.

Kyrie Irving won the gold medal representing the USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

#6 Chris Paul

Chris Paul representing USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics
Chris Paul representing USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics

Chris Paul declined the invitation to play for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as he is currently in the middle of the 2021 NBA Finals. His team, the Phoenix Suns, were having a terrific playoff run and Paul decided to dedicate his energy towards getting his franchise a championship. Paul finished fifth in MVP voting this season and was in fact a finalist for Team USA this summer but declined later on.

#7 James Harden

James Harden (#13) representing USA at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup
James Harden (#13) representing USA at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup

James Harden suffered a hamstring injury during the 2021 NBA playoffs. He returned for three games but was largely ineffective during those matches. Harden was injured for arguably the longest stretch of his career during the regular season. He won the gold medal representing the USA at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

#8 Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook (with LeBron James) at the USA Basketball Men's National Team Training Camp in 2015
Russell Westbrook (with LeBron James) at the USA Basketball Men's National Team Training Camp in 2015

Given the injuries to other star guards, Russell Westbrook was expected to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics given his prior Olympic experience. He was, in fact, a finalist for the Team USA roster along with his Wizards teammate Bradley Beal, but when the final roster was announced, he was not on it. Westbrook won gold for the USA at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2010 FIBA World Cup.

#9 Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons with the Australia men's National Basketball Team
Ben Simmons with the Australia men's National Basketball Team

The Australian Basketball Federation reported that Ben Simmons has withdrawn from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Simmons informed head coach Brian Goorjian that he wants to spend the summer on individual skill development and he wishes the team well. Coach Goorjian spoke about Simmons declining the invitation for the Summer Games, saying:

"I have spoken with Ben and whilst we wanted him to be a part of our team, we understand and support his decision and he has made it clear that this is something that he wants to be a part of in the future...It is a pretty rough time for him right now and I know it is something that he wanted to do, but the timing just hasn’t worked."

Ben Simmons won the gold medal for Australia at the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championship and the silver medal at the 2017 FIBA World U17 Championship.

#10 Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis representing USA at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup
Anthony Davis representing USA at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup

Anthony Davis hasn't played much basketball all year. He was sidelined for a major chunk of the 2020-21 NBA season and also missed time in the 2021 NBA playoffs. It is understandable that he would withdraw from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He is one of the prime NBA centers that would have provided defense and size on the Team USA roster. Davis won gold medals for the USA at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

Also Read: 3 things Team USA need to change before the start of 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Edited by Arnav Kholkar
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