LeBron out of Rio, leaving Melo alone to chase history
NEW YORK — With LeBron James taking a pass, Carmelo Anthony alone will have a chance to become the most-decorated Olympian in men’s basketball history.
The New York Knicks forward has agreed to chase a fourth Olympic medal, a person with knowledge of the details said Thursday.
He and James both have two gold medals and a bronze, but James informed USA Basketball that he has withdrawn from consideration, agent Rich Paul told The Associated Press on Thursday night.
James had told the Americans he wouldn’t make his decision until after the NBA Finals, which ended with the All-Star forward leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the championship on Sunday over the Golden State Warriors, who were looking to cap off the greatest season in NBA history with a championship.
The loss of LeBron from the national team is the biggest yet for a U.S. team that has suffered a number of player withdrawals, as James ranks as the team’s career leader in points and assists in the Olympics, while ranking second in rebounds.
Without him, the Americans still have two spots to fill on their 12-man roster that will be named Monday.
Toronto teammates Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will be on it, the person told AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because the roster discussions were to remain private.
Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Indiana’s Paul George, Golden State’s Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, Chicago’s Jimmy Butler and the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan are also committed to play for the two-time defending champions in Rio de Janeiro.
The Americans are also holding a spot for Kyrie Irving, James’ Cavaliers teammate.
Kawhi Leonard passed on the opportunity to play, with the San Antonio Spurs announcing his withdrawal in a news release.
“This was a very difficult decision. It’s an honor to have been considered for the team and I hope that in the future I will have the chance to represent my country by playing for USA Basketball,” Leonard said.
Anthony won gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and a bronze in 2004. He, James and Hall of Famer David Robinson are the only Americans to play in three Olympics.
Anthony previously said he planned to play, telling AP recently: “Listen, I’ve been with USA Basketball since I was 16, 17 years old. Can’t stop now.”
DeRozan played for the Americans when they won the gold medal at the Basketball World Cup in 2014, but Lowry’s inclusion on the roster was a surprise, since he wasn’t even in the Americans’ roster pool of 31 players.
But with Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook all withdrawing, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said earlier this month he wouldn’t rule out adding another guard to the 12-man roster.
He may even need to add another if Irving declines to play. Irving was the MVP of the 2014 Basketball World Cup and would probably start for the Americans if he opted to play after helping the Cavaliers win the NBA title.
Yahoo Sports first reported Thursday that Anthony, Lowry and DeRozan would play.
Durant won gold in 2012. George, Green, Thompson, Cousins, Butler and Jordan would all be making their Olympic debuts at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro
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