James Harden is joining other NBA stars in opting out of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The Houston Rockets' star announced on Friday through his team that he's decided not to compete in the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil. Earlier this week, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors informed the media he wouldn't be participating in the Olympics. Earlier on Friday, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder announced he too would be forgoing the Olympics Games this time around.
Harden said it's been a blessing to play for Team USA in the past, having won the gold medal in both the 2012 Olympics in London and the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, and he hopes to have the opportunity to be on the team in the future.
"As a result of many difficult conversations with my family, the Rockets, and trusted advisors, I've notified Jerry Colangelo and Team USA that I will not be competing at the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Brazil.
This decision was a painstaking one that I did not take lightly. As a member of the 2012 London Olympic Gold Medal Team, and as Team Captain for the 2014 FIBA Gold Medal Team, it goes without saying that USA Basketball has provided me with some of the most meaningful personal and professional accomplishments of my life. I have been extremely blessed to wear the "red, white, and blue" and to compete at the highest international level with the greatest players representing the greatest country in the world. I sincerely hope I'll earn an opportunity to represent Team USA again in the future."
While Curry denied the Zika virus being the reason for his choice not to participate this summer, it's hard not to assume this plays a part in a lot of athletes' decisions to choose not to play for their country. It also could be the fact that these guys are simply looking to rest a bit in the summer and focus on the upcoming NBA season.
Whatever the reason is, we're going to have some newer faces likely involved in USA Basketball this summer in terms of making the final roster. That 12-man squad will be finalized later in the coming months after the USA Basketball camp and exhibition games.