Why is LeBron James not playing for Team USA in FIBA World Cup 2023?

Olympics Day 16 - Basketball
LeBron James last played for Team USA way back in 2014

It has been more than 10 years since LeBron James suited up for Team USA. James being one of the biggest stars in the game, basketball fans would love the two-time Olympic gold medalist to give it another shot.

The upcoming FIBA World Cup will be held in Asia, and fans are looking forward to getting their summer basketball fix. As Team USA announced its roster, many were expecting a few marquee names to be included, but instead, it was composed of young players.

The only person from the 2023 FIBA World Cup USA team who has won a championship ring is Bobby Portis. However, he was not even a top-three option for the 2021 Milwaukee Bucks, coming off the bench backing up Brook Lopez.

With LeBron James approaching the twilight of his career, his appearance in the 2023 FIBA World Cup was not widely expected. The remaining mileage of James in his 38-year-old body is expected to be spent on trying to bring a championship to the LA Lakers and playing alongside his son Bronny James once he becomes eligible for the 2024 NBA draft.

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James had quite a stretch playing for Team USA. As early as his rookie year in 2004, he teamed up alongside Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan and Ben Wallace and took home the bronze medal.

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With the loss, USA had to qualify for the Olympics by competing in the 2006 FIBA World Cup but fell short, bringing home a bronze medal again. That was the only time LeBron James participated in the FIBA World Cup.

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James had another chance of winning a gold medal in the Olympics, and this time he was joined by a more mature Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and first-timer Kobe Bryant.

The ensemble back then was called 'The Redeem Team', and their mission was successful, as they won gold for the USA.

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The last time the four-time NBA champion wore the red, white and blue was in 2012 when he teamed up with Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and rookie Anthony Davis to capture his second gold medal.

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LeBron James declining invites to Team USA camps

LeBron James could have become three-time Olympic gold medalist in 2016, but the former 2012 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year rejected the offer to join training camp, citing the need for rest..

"I could use the rest," James said in a report by Bleacher Report.

At the time, he was fresh off his third NBA championship, and it was the only time he won it for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Four years later, USA Basketball didn't invite James to join the team for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, but he had already took himself out of consideration.

The Olympics got delayed and was played the following year. This time, James and the LA Lakers were coming off a first-round loss to the Phoenix Suns in a failed title defense.

James didn't join the USA's training camp, as he was set to shoot Space Jam 2, saying:

"So I'm going to let the ankle rest for about a month and then I'm going to gear up with Lola, Taz, Granny, Bugs and the rest of the crew. So, hopefully I'll see you all at the match."
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Not getting any younger, James is looking to add another championship ring to his long list of achievements. The FIBA World Cup gold medal is not that attractive to him, as the best NBA players are more interested in the Olympics.

Who knows? Maybe a last hurrah for LeBron James in the 2024 Paris Olympics could be in the works. Seems unlikely, but there's a very slim chance.

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Edited by Bhargav
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