Chris Paul won’t play for the U.S. basketball team in this summer’s Olympics, passing up a chance for a third gold medal.
Paul played for the U.S. in 2008 and 2012 and could have joined LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in trying to become the first men’s players to win three Olympic basketball golds.
“He’s made a major contribution to USA Basketball. I think he was great for us and I think it was good for him to be part of what we did, and we’re appreciative of that,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Tuesday.
“That’s the way it should be when a player gets to a point and makes a decision that it might not be best to push it, to push the envelope as you get on in your career, and so we respect that decision.”
Colangelo said Paul, who started every game for the Americans in London, had indicated a couple of months ago he might not be up for the trip to Rio, but wanted more time to consider it.
“I think when we spoke in January my feeling was he probably wouldn’t,” Colangelo said. “I think the season, as you mature in your career or age, it takes its toll. It just does.”
Paul, who will turn 31 in May, played for the Americans as a rookie in the 2006 world basketball championship before winning Olympic golds in Beijing and London. The Clippers’ All-Star told Sports Illustrated, which first reported his decision Tuesday, that, “I feel my body telling me that I could use the time.”
It’s the second major loss for the Americans, as Anthony Davis was forced to pull out recently with knee and shoulder injuries. But 29 players remain in their roster pool, with Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Damian Lillard and Mike Conley among the remain point guard choices.
“One thing I would tell you is the guard position is one of our strong suits, so this opens up an opportunity for someone who might not otherwise have been considered to be one of those,” Colangelo said.
Colangelo added he hasn’t heard from James and Anthony, Paul’s close friends. James hasn’t made his decision, though Anthony has indicated he wants to play.
The U.S. plans to pick its team in late June.