RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The beaches and glamour of Rio de Janeiro haven’t yet convinced LeBron James that he should come back in two years for a shot at a third Olympic gold medal.
James has spent several days in Rio preparing for Saturday’s NBA preseason game against his former Miami Heat teammates, but reiterated on Friday that it’s too early to make a decision about the Olympics.
“I’m undecided,” James said at the club facilities of Flamengo, Brazil’s most popular soccer team, where both teams are practicing. “It’s not until 2016. I got two years. I got a long time.”
James and two other Cavalier teammates — Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving — have been picked in a national pool that will be used to select the 2016 men’s team for the United States, which has won gold at the last two Olympics and in five of the last six.
Irving, who said he will sit out Saturday’s game with a sprained right ankle, would be playing in his first Olympics if picked.
“Obviously to be in the pool of guys is a great honor,” he said.
Love left no doubt he wants to play again, after winning gold two years ago in London.
“Playing for my country has done a lot of things for my career,” he said. “It has afforded me a great opportunity to get better. Wearing the USA across the chest was a great way to feel patriotic. I hope that I have another chance in 2016 to be here.”
Heat duo Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade won gold in 2008, but are out of the pool and said it’s time for others to take over.
“I’ve done it and I want other guys to experience it,” Bosh said. “Trying to chase that experience I had in ’08 — I’m not going to be able to fulfill that. I was a younger guy and I was single and I had a lot more time.”
Wade made it clear that training and playing with the Olympic team after a full NBA season is a young man’s job.
“I did my time,” he said. “Obviously it’s the younger guys’ time to have the opportunity to win that gold medal.”
Luol Deng, who joined the Heat this summer as a free agent after 10 seasons with the Chicago Bulls, played with Britain at the 2012 Olympics when the team qualified automatically as host.
He is unlikely to get that chance again. Britain has cut funding for Olympic basketball, and the team failed to qualify for this year’s recent world championship in Spain.
Britain funds its sports from the national lottery, and it cut basketball money because it has not produced medals.
“I think it’s really stupid,” Deng said. “I’m not knocking any other sports. Basketball has come a long way, but the way it was looked at was: did they get any medals? No.”
While the NBA is constantly getting more and more international, playing abroad can still lead to misunderstandings.
Players have been warned that a gesture sometimes used after a made 3-pointer may offend Brazilians. It involves players making a circle around their eyes and lifting the other three fingers.
“We don’t want to offend anybody,” Bosh said. “I think it’s a good recommendation, but it’s only a recommendation. So it’s on the players to do it. I don’t like 3-point celebrations because it’s just one shot. If you’ve got to celebrate every time, it’s a long season.”
Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.