Devin Booker to join 12-man USA Basketball roster for Tokyo Olympics
Jun 28, 2021, 10:20 AM | Updated: 10:27 am
(Photo by Jordan Kaye/Cronkite News)
He might have to book it to Tokyo.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker has committed to join the 12-man roster for USA Basketball in the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, according to Team USA.
Booker and the Suns hold a 3-1 lead on the Los Angeles Clippers heading into Game 5 on Monday, and a deeper run by them into the postseason would keep Booker busy right up until the Olympics.
Opening ceremonies are set for July 23, and the NBA Finals were mapped out to have an end date of July 22 at the latest.
USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf that Booker will join the squad even if the Suns make the finals and the series goes seven games.
“(Booker) called me maybe three weeks ago and said, ‘I just want to reiterate how much I would love to be on that Olympic team. I’ll do whatever you ask me to do,'” Colangelo said Friday. “He said, ‘And if we have a great run in the playoffs and we’re in the finals, I’ll jump on a plane the day after the last game and I’ll be there. You can count on me.’
“When you have that kind of attitude, that kind of says it all.”
Booker is the first American to play in the Olympics since Shawn Marion and Amar’e Stoudemire won the bronze medal in 2004. Suns who participated in the Olympics since then include Leandro Barbosa for Brazil in 2016 and Luis Scola for Argentina in 2012.
Prior, Jason Kidd (U.S., 2000) and Charles Barkley (U.S., 1992 and 1996) played for Team USA.
The 24-year-old Booker averaged 25.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in his sixth NBA regular season.
His commitment to the national team is not surprising, as Booker has been open about his interest in playing for Team USA. He was invited last year by USA Basketball men’s team managing director Jerry Colangelo.
“He and I had a good conversation about his interest and desire to participate,” Colangelo told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf in February 2020.
Booker did not play for USA Basketball in the summer of 2019 as the United States finished in seventh place for the FIBA World Cup. He has previously taken part in USA Basketball training camp in 2018 and with the USA Select Team in 2016.
Booker has not made a senior national team roster until this year.
He, like many others, skipped that 2019 RIBA competition with his eyes more on making the 2020 Olympics that were ultimately postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the past, the FIBA World Cup remained two years separated from the Olympic cycle. Now that’s down to one year, which likely played a role in star players such as Booker prioritizing rest during FIBA for a role on the Olympic team.
Booker, who in 2019 told reporters he wanted to take the summer off to get healthy, said heading into the 2019-20 season that he would accept an invite to the Olympics in Tokyo. The pandemic, of course, changed the circumstances and timing of the Tokyo games.
“Yes, I would. I would love to,” he said.
“Just representing your country, playing in the Olympics, all of these things have been dreams of mine, so hopefully if I ever get the opportunity I’ll take full advantage of that. I know a lot of work goes into that. I know representing the country for USA Basketball can be one of the most prestigious things you can do.”
12-man Tokyo Olympics USA Basketball roster
Head coach — Gregg Popovich
Assistant coaches — Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce and Jay Wright