Olympics loses a major star as Stephen Curry opts out of US basketball team
NBA MVP cites injuries ‘among other reasons’ amid Zika fears
Stephen Curry has withdrawn from consideration from the Olympics, leaving the US basketball team without the NBA’s MVP.
Curry said in a statement that he has decided to pull out for “several factors – including recent ankle and knee injuries.”
He didn’t say what the other factors were that he referenced. Several athletes have expressed concerns about the water situation in Rio and the Zika virus.
The guard is the highest-profile absence for the two-time defending gold medalists, who will already be without NBA All-Stars Chris Paul and Anthony Davis.
Curry has won a pair of world titles with the Americans and was a starter when they won the 2014 Basketball World Cup. He had spoken of wanting the chance to win Olympic gold, but missed six games in the postseason with a right knee injury.
“My previous experiences with USA Basketball have been incredibly rewarding, educational and enjoyable, which made this an extremely difficult decision for me and my family,” Curry said.
“However, due to several factors – including recent ankle and knee injuries – I believe this is the best decision for me at this stage of my career.”
Curry said he had spoken with his family, the Warriors and his representatives, and recently informed USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo that he would not go to Brazil.
“Obviously we are disappointed that Steph will not be available this summer, but we understand these situations arise and we are fully supportive of his decision,” Colangelo said.
Curry’s decision to withdraw was first reported by the Mercury News.
The Americans have a list of 31 players in their roster pool for this summer – and plan to name their 12-man roster later this month.
Curry, the first player to be voted a unanimous MVP and the league’s leading scorer, certainly would have been on it. He started all nine games for the Americans in Spain, averaging 10.7 points, and his USA Basketball experience dates to when he played for the under-19 team in 2007 that won a silver medal.
He could have been the team’s biggest star in Rio, with Kobe Bryant retired and LeBron James still uncommitted. But Curry decided it’s more important that he rest, following a demanding regular season in which the Warriors set the NBA record with 73 victories, and a postseason run that’s included ankle and elbow injuries on top of the sprained knee.
“It’s an incredible honour to represent your country and wear ‘USA’ on your chest, but my primary basketball-related objective this summer needs to focus on my body and getting ready for the 2016-17 NBA season,” Curry said.
The Warriors, who have a 2-0 lead over Cleveland in the NBA Finals, could still have a strong presence at the Olympics. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes remain candidates for the US team, while Andrew Bogut (Australia), Anderson Varejao and Leandro Barbosa (Brazil) and Festus Ezeli (Nigeria) are on the rosters of their countries.
Paul, who won two golds with the US, had already opted not to play this time, and fellow point guards John Wall of Washington and Mike Conley of Memphis are coming off injuries. The Americans still have Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Portland’s Damian Lillard as possibilities at the position.
But Curry likely would have started either ahead of them or alongside one in the U.S. backcourt, as he did as the shooting guard next to Irving in 2014. He made 43.8 per cent of his attempts then from the shorter international 3-point arc, and the Americans will miss his shooting against the zone defences they face.
Colangelo said he had been in contact with Curry since his injuries and was aware the decision to withdraw was possible.
“Steph has always represented his country in an exemplary manner, and we are sorry that he won’t be able to be with us this summer,” Colangelo said.
Curry will miss the chance to play for the Americans in his home arena, as the US will play China in an exhibition game at Oracle Arena in July.