LeBron James is considering a return to Team USA, and it's all because of Gregg Popovich.
James missed Team USA this summer amid both exhaustion concerns from another Finals run, his free agency and concerns over the Zika virus in Rio. However, he says he may play again in Tokyo in 2020, because of Popovich.
James said the fact that Popovich will be the coach "factors a lot," according to the Associated Press.
James will be 35 for those games, and you have to think he'll be nearing the end of his career. It would provide him an opportunity to match Carmelo Anthony's gold medal count, and to retire from international competition on top. James could take a similar role as Kobe Bryant did for the 2012 games, as the veteran leader who is there as much as a spokesman as anything else.
We're a long way from there, and a lot can happen in that time. Team USA will be the favorite no matter what, but if James wants a spot, he'll get it. It also shows how important the selection of Popovich to lead the team is. Popovich is the most respected coach in the league, maybe in its history, and players want the experience of playing for him. James has battled Popovich three times in the Finals, going 1-2.
Popovich, of course, deadpanned this response about James' comments on Saturday:
Gregg Popovich on LeBron's praise of him: "He owes me a lot of money, and he thinks I'll forget if he says something nice about me."— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) January 22, 2017
We'll see if James has the legs in four years to make this partnership a reality for a summer.