Why LeBron James, Stephen Curry and other NBA stars skipped the 2021 Olympics

Ball is life, but it’s not Olympics.

The USA men’s basketball team has had some issues in recent weeks. After a few poor showings in exhibition games, the team was forced to find replacements for Kevin Love and Bradley Beal on the fly, with some … interesting replacements named.

But the show must go on — and it’s going on without some of its biggest stars.

Before the roster was selected, several of the Association’s biggest names withdrew from consideration for the national team for different reasons, but largely health-related; Meaning, the world won’t get to see LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden and others in the global tournament.

With another short NBA offseason for players and a bevy of injuries, plenty of players withdrew from consideration for the 2021 Olympic squad.

MORE: Full USA basketball roster for 2021 Olympics

LeBron James

After the Lakers were ousted in the first round of the NBA playoffs, LeBron James used his post-series press conference to say he was sitting out of the 2021 Olympics.

James, 37, dealt with an ankle injury that kept him out a month of the regular season, re-aggravating the injury during the last game of the regular season. The superstar decided it best to rest his body and heal up for the 2021-22 season.

“Nah, I think I’m gonna play for the Tune Squad this summer instead of the Olympics,” James said.

Stephen Curry

Curry, like James, dealt with injuries throughout his career. In 2021, he missed time due to a fractured tailbone, but still played in 63 of a possible 72 games. Still, the 33-year-old is taking the summer off to continue to heal his body.

In July, Curry revealed he was at peace with the decision to miss out on the Olympics despite the 2021 team one of his last real shots at making an Olympic basketball team:

“No regrets at all. Obviously being here, playing golf, having fun with my family — that’s a personal thing. But there’s always that itch to play and play on the biggest stage, like the Olympics. But it just wasn’t the right thing for me and the right time,” Curry said.

James Harden

Also stepping aside from the Olympic team this year is Nets guard James Harden. Harden was sidelined with a hamstring injury in the playoffs, returning late in Brooklyn’s series against the Bucks, though he clearly wasn’t 100 percent.

Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst than Harden’s hamstring and getting healthy are his priorities this summer:

Chris Paul

The Suns guard’s full attention was on the NBA Finals, his first opportunity to capture a Larry O’Brien trophy in his career.

Because of the end of the NBA Finals and the start of the 2021 Olympics leaves no real break for the 36-year-old Paul, the 2008 and 2012 gold-medal winner on Team USA withdrew his name from consideration for the squad.

Anthony Davis

Davis had an injury-riddled 2020-21 season: He missed time with Achilles/calf injuries, limiting him to just 36 games of the 72 regular-season contests this past season.

Then, Davis dealt with a groin injury that kept him from full-strength in the Lakers’ brief playoff run. While the star forward hasn’t commented on on why he isn’t playing, it’s wholly expected he’s trying to get healthy for the upcoming NBA season.

Kyrie Irving

The Nets guard injured his ankle in Brooklyn’s playoff matchup vs. the Bucks after stepping on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s foot. Irving would miss the remainder of the playoffs with the injury, and subsequently pull his name from consideration for the Olympic squad.

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