We need to talk about the rumors that LeBron James is trying to assemble an Olympic super team to take one last ride in Paris next summer.
The USA’s men just took fourth place in the FIBA World Cup, dropping games to Lithuania, Germany, and Canada.
To quote Donald Trump in a vastly different context- “They’re not sending their best.”
The starting lineup of this summer’s iteration of the Men’s National Team was an average age of 26, and had three combined all-star appearances between them.
The bench of this roster had four players that weren’t even full time starters for their NBA teams last year.
But help is on the way, as Shams Charania is reporting that LeBron James seeks to build what some are calling the “Supreme Team,” and put together a squad that would rival in talent and accolades the Olympic teams of 1992 and 1996.
We’re talking Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Jayson Tatum, Draymond Green.
Basketball’s own version of The Expendables.
You even have Devin Booker out here on social media volunteering to join up to be a 3-and-D wing player just to be able to take part in this.
So this begs the question, why on earth is LeBron James planning to take part in the grueling Olympic slate at age 39, when there have only ever been 31 professional basketball players in the history of the game to even take the court at the highest level after age 40.
Is this going to be his swan song? Retire in Paris? Absolutely not. I fully expect to see LeBron playing two full seasons beyond the 2024 Olympics, and so do some of his corporate partners.
Think about it this way- has anyone ever been more aware of the entire concept of “legacy” while still in their playing days? This is an opportunity for LeBron to publicly give back to the game, while bridging the old and the new on the world’s largest stage.
This crop of FIBA kids? That was an audition. Expect to see maybe 3-4 players from this team, paired with some of the NBA’s current stars in their 20’s like Jayson Tatum, and a handful of twilight legends as well.
Look at what Tom Brady did in his final two years in the NFL to make himself more accessible and soften his persona on the way into the next phase of his career. Think of this a little like that.
LeBron isn’t trying to win anyone over that hates him for the stances he’s taken off the court. Some Americans have already shown their willingness to root on the downfall of the competitors representing them based on their personal views- case in point, the US Women’s National Soccer Team.
No, this is more like the frilly frosting on the decorative cake that has been one of the greatest and most scrutinized athletic careers in the history of sport.
And it won’t be without pressure or adversity, them boys around the world can play. The fact that there’s a risk of losing involved is what makes this such an intriguing possibility.
The embarrassment of a loss on the national stage with a dozen future Hall of Famers on the roster is immense. But the reward, both for LeBron James’ legacy, and the future of basketball, can’t be ignored.
Let that sink in.