Los Angeles Lakers' playoff exit raises question over LeBron James' Olympics availability
LeBron James has cast doubt over his participation at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 2021 after the Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated from the NBA (National Basketball Association) playoffs on Thursday evening.
When asked about his summer plans immediately following the Lakers' game six 113-100 loss to the Suns, which secured a 4-2 series win for Phoenix, James revealed that he plans to play for the Tune Squad - a reference to James' participation in filming Space Jam 2 - rather than suit up for the national team in Tokyo.
Tune Squad over Team USA?
Back in March James told reporters he would 'wait and see' how the Lakers' season unfolded before committing to Team USA for the Olympic Games after being included on the list of finalists for the men's basketball team.
Had the Lakers progressed all the way to the NBA Finals, it's fair to say that the odds of James competing at the Games would have been slim.
But with the Lakers' early exit from the postseason, and the Olympic Games less than 50 days away, questions arose as to whether 'The King' will now concentrate on Team USA this summer.
Team USA will reportedly begin their training camp in preparation for the Olympic Games on 1 July - though that date is not yet finalised.
Despite James' recent statement, the four-time NBA champion is -for now - listed among a star-studded pool of 57 finalists (which features 16 Olympians, including Brooklyn Nets trio James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving) for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Team USA's quest for a fourth straight gold
James was not part of the U.S. men's team for the Rio 2016 Olympics (where Team USA won its third successive gold medal in the competition), but did win gold in London (2012) and Beijing (2008), as well as a bronze at Athens 2004.
With the exception of those Games in Athens, the U.S. has finished on top of the podium at every Olympic basketball tournament since Barcelona 1992, when the Dream Team dominated the competition.
The U.S. - the number one ranked team in the world - has been drawn in group A for the competition in Tokyo with France (world no. 7), Iran (world no. 23), and the winner of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Victoria, Canada, which will be held from 29 June to 4 July.