After Marc Stein of the New York Times reported on Saturday that Stephen Curry wasat the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Curry made his desire official in a wide-ranging interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols.
"That is the plan, for sure," Curry told Nichols. "You know, obviously knock on wood, you don't want any injuries or things like that to interfere.
"Definitely want to go," Curry continued. "I've never been on the Olympic team. I've been on two World Cup championship gold-medal teams. But the Olympics is the experience that I want. And next year will hopefully be it."
On Wednesday, Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard also committed, at least verbally, to playing for Team USA in 2020.
Lillard spoke with James McKern of news.com.au in Australia during a trip to Sydney as Adidas' Global Ambassador. After Team USA's seventh-place finish at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Lillard also made no bones about his plans next year.
"I plan on being a part of that. I plan on playing," Lillard said exclusively to news.com.au.
When asked about adding an Olympic medal to his trophy cabinet, Lillard was emphatic: "Definitely."
Draymond Green also voiced his desire to join the Olympic cause, and for the sake of the USA -- which just took seventh place and one massive hit to the collective American basketball ego in this summer's FIBA World Cup -- more stars will follow these guys' lead. LeBron James, one of the most decorated internal players in history, hasn't ruled out a final Olympic bid. James Harden, Bradley Beal and Anthony Davis, among others, initially committed to play this summer before ultimately backing out for various reasons, notably preparing for the slog of the upcoming NBA season.
But let's be honest about this: The biggest stars just didn't care about the World Cup. The cache of the event isn't there, and there wasn't anything to prove anyway. Since the biggest NBA stars rejoined the American cause in response to a 2006 World Cup defeat to Greece, the U.S. hadn't lost an international tournament game in almost 13 years, a run that included three consecutive Olympic gold medals in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
Now there is something to prove again, and indeed, Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball's managing director, has stated that there has already been "a lot of indications about guys who want to play next summer." Of course, there has been a lot of talk in the aftermath of the World Cup that the rest of the world has caught up to American basketball. Kobe Bryant is on record .
"It's not a matter of the rest of the world catching up to the U.S., it's that the rest of the world has been caught up for quite some time," Bryant recently said. "And it's to the point now where us in the U.S. are going to win some, we're going lose some. And that's just how it goes."
Bryant went on to recall the nail-biting gold-medal game at the 2008 Olympics, where the biggest NBA stars, after that 2006 loss to Greece, had committed to the cause of re-establishing U.S. basketball dominance. Even then, with the likes of LeBron, Kobe, prime Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade on board, Spain, with the international formula of underrated talent plus a lifetime of chemistry, had Team USA on the ropes for stretches.
"You have to remember on the Redeem Team we needed a hell of a fourth quarter to beat Spain," Bryant said. "That was a hell of a team we had. We still needed a real late push to beat Spain in that gold medal match. So I say that to say, put the best players that you think are going to make the best U.S. team out on the floor, we are still going to have challenges. It's not going to be a cakewalk. The days of the 92 Barcelona Dream Team are gone. They're over, so it's going to be tough."
To this point, just adding Curry and Lillard, and perhaps Green if he makes the team (he should, but sometimes pure star-power wins out), might not be enough. The current U.S. team, long before it lost to France and Serbia, needed something of a basketball miracle to beat Turkey at the World Cup. That's a long way off from winning Olympic gold.
In all likelihood, more stars will commit to 2020, perhaps soon, for the simple fact that there is, once again, something to prove. For Curry, an Olympic gold medal is the one thing missing from his Hall of Fame resume unless you want to continue to stick on his lack of a Finals MVP, of which he was robbed in 2015, but that's neither here nor there. The gold medal is the bucket-list piece, and if at least a few other big names his and Lillard's lead, there's a good chance he'll be able to cross that one off.