LeBron James has ruled himself out of the USA’s Olympic team this summer, as he’s instead focusing on promoting the launch of Space Jam: A New Legacy.
James’s LA Lakers suffered a 4-2 series defeat to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the NBA play-offs, leading to speculation that LeBron would have time to join the US basketball team for the summer Olympics, starting in Tokyo in late July.
However, despite expressing an interest in the Olympic participation earlier in the season, basketball icon James has now changed his (ahem) tune and is choosing the “Tune Squad” over Team USA.
Asked if the Olympics were now a possibility, LeBron replied (per Metro): ‘Nah, I think I’m gonna play for the Tune Squad this summer instead of the Olympics.
“I think that’s what my focus is on, on trying to beat the Monstars – or the Goon Squad we call them now.
“So didn’t have much success versus the [Phoenix] Suns, so now I am gearing my attention to the Goon Squad here in July, in mid-July.
“So I’m gonna 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 y’all at the match.”
No news yet on the USA’s basketball coach Jeff Van Gundy’s response to the NBA’s biggest star deciding that Lola and Bugs Bunny were a bigger concern than trying to win Olympic gold for his country.
However James – who has been part of US Olympic teams in 2004, 2008 and 2012 (winning gold in the latter two) – is not alone in deciding against playing for the US Olympic basketball team.
The punishing NBA schedule and the chance to rest and recuperate over the summer means veteran US superstars often decline the chance to participate. Steph Curry, for example, chose against playing in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil to rest his knee and ankle problems.
However James also has the motive of a film to promote: the Space Jam sequel set for release this summer.
A follow up to Michael Jordan’s 1996 cult classic, Space Jam: A New Legacy will see LeBron lead a team of Loony Tunes all-stars including Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn and the Tasmanian Devil.
On the benefit of a summer off basketball following the disappointment of defeat to the Suns, the 36-year-old LeBron admitted: ‘It’s going to work wonders for me.
“Obviously during the season I don’t talk about rest, I don’t even like to put my mind in that frame, it makes me weak.
“But in the off-season I’ve got an opportunity to rest. I’ve got like three months to recalibrate, get my ankle back to 100%, where it was before that Atlanta game.
“That’s the most important thing for me. Everything else feels extremely well. My ankle was the only thing that was bothering me in the latter stages of the season.”
All imagery: PA Images/Warner Bros