The United States is supposed to run the world in men’s basketball. Instead, the Team USA just got humiliated in the 2023 FIBA World Cup by finishing outside of the medal stand with a 5-3 overall record. With the rest of the globe threatening the United States’ basketball supremacy, the greatest American players of this generation are reportedly banding together to make sure the U.S. gets a different result at the 2024 Paris Olympics — and it all starts with LeBron James.
James is currently planning to compete for USA Basketball at the 2024 Olympics, and he’s recruiting some famous old friends to join him, according to The Athletic. James is pushing to get pledges from Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, Anthony Davis, and Draymond Green for one last gold medal run on the game’s biggest international stage. Other names who could join include Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, and De’Aaron Fox.
James will be 39 years old by the time the Olympics start in the summer of 2024. He hasn’t played for Team USA since London in 2012, when the Americans won the gold on a team that also featured Durant and Kobe Bryant. Curry has never played for Team USA in the Olympics, but was a member of the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Cup teams that won gold.
USA Basketball’s problems at the 2023 World Cup weren’t just related to star power. The Americans still appeared to have the deepest and most talented roster in the field despite sending what could charitably be described as its “B-Team.” Their losses to Lithuania, Canada, and eventual champion Germany happened for a variety of reasons, starting with the team’s lack of beef inside.
Head coach Steve Kerr’s preference for five-out basketball did not work in the FIBA game with a smaller court and no “three in the key” rule, making the U.S. light on rebounding and interior scoring in the paint. Bam Adebayo has been floated as one big man who could join the 2024 Olympics squad. Joel Embiid will also be able to choose between France and the U.S. if he decides to play.
The U.S. performance in the World Cup has not correlated with its Olympic performance lately. USA Basketball has won four straight gold medals at the Olympics. The last time the U.S. didn’t win gold in men’s basketball at the Olympics was back in 2004, when it famously finished third. Less talented rosters have struggled in the last two World Cup runs, with the 2019 team finishing seventh and the 2023 team finishing fourth.
James, Curry, Durant, and company haven’t officially pledged for the 2024 Olympics yet. A lot can change over the next year. For now, though, there’s real hype behind one last run with some of the game’s biggest stars before the end of their careers. After their World Cup performance, Team USA needs all the help it can get.