Chris Paul won’t be playing for Team USA in the 2016 Olympics, even though he was a huge part of the team in both 2008 and 2012. The Los Angeles Clippers point guard made the announcement in an interview with Sports Illustrated on Monday, saying he would be foregoing the journey to Rio de Janeiro.
The 30-year old basketball player stated that the primary reason he’s backing out is because of how busy his NBA season has been, and how hard he’s already working physically.
“I feel my body telling me that I could use the time,” he stated. Four years can make a big difference in the deterioration of the body, and he’s likely beginning to feel his age a little, particularly when considering the mileage he’s put on his legs after 11 years. He’ll be 31 when the summer olympics begin, and he’s not as young as he used to be.
Paul went on to explain that another reason for his decision is to spend a little more time with his family. He referred to a conversation he had with his six-year-old son:
“Just a few days ago, Little Chris asked me, ‘Daddy, will you play in the Olympics again?’ Part of me wanted to say yes, because he’s never been part of it. But I told him, ‘I want to spend more time with you.”
Chris was a part of the last two summer olympics and was a key contributor both times. The team received a gold medal in both 2008 and 2012. If he were to become a part of the team, he’d no doubt be in the runnings for a third gold medal, but he says it’s time to take some time for himself. Every summer since his career began, he’s either been hurt or playing for Team USA, so he’s looking forward to a summer without such a big commitment.
He has played for the NBA for 11 years, but he admitted he loves playing for Team USA.”What we do is such a small thing compared to what the people do who protect our freedom,” Paul said during the 2012 Olympic Games. “But when I put on that USA jersey it always gave me goose bumps because you realized you were part of something so much bigger than yourself.”
He admits that he’ll miss the incredible feeling of playing for Team USA. The interview was held on the night he was to play against the Celtics in the Staples Center, and he said:
“Tonight, we’ll play the Celtics, and the fans in Boston will cheer hard against us. The fans in L.A. will cheer hard against them. The thing I’ll always remember about Team USA is that everyone cheers for you.”
It’s too bad Chris Paul won’t be a part of the team for the 2016 Olympics, since he’s had a pretty incredible season. He’s worked extremely hard, which is perhaps the reason that he’s decided he needs a break.
After Blake Griffin was injured last Christmas, Paul has been picking up a lot of the slack. He can be given credit for nearly half of the assists for the Clippers. ESPN called him “the most important offensive player in the NBA,” and he’s arguably the best point guard of his generation.
So far, Paul isn’t the only one to withdraw his name from Team USA. Anthony Davis and Kobe Bryant have both removed their names from consideration. Stephen Curry is a likely shoe-in for a position on the team if he’s interested. Other possible candidates will include LeBron James, who has played three Olympics before, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and James Harden.
The list of point guards to take Paul’s place is abundant, including names like Curry, Westbrook, Conley, Lillard, Irving, and Wall. With talent like this, Team USA could be well on its way to another gold medal in the 2016 Olympics, despite Chris Paul’s withdrawal.
[Image via Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]