After being one of the first NBA stars to withdraw from Team USA for the FIBA World Cup, James Harden joins a growing list of players to commit to playing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Days after Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Klay Thompson signaled their interest in rejoining Team USA next year, Harden jumped on board as well to potential form one of the most deadly backcourts in Olympics history.
James Harden says “it’s one of my goals to represent this beautiful country” in the Olympics next summer.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) September 27, 2019
Harden initially declined to participate in the World Cup because he wanted to take the offseason to prepare to play alongside Russell Westbrook again. Once considered the “leader” of Team USA, he will be a major addition to a team looking for redemption after a disastrous World Cup run.
Harden has plenty of experience with Team USA Basketball, as he helped the country to gold medals in the 2012 London Olympics and 2014 World Cup. While he came off the bench to score 5.5 points per contest in his first Olympics, Harden would be leaned upon as one of the team’s strongest scorers in 2020.
Is there reason to worry about the 2020 team?
USA Basketball was still favorites headed into the World Cup this summer despite a bevy of high-profile dropouts, and it was nothing short of a disaster. Team USA lost its first non-exhibition game in 59 tries and wound up finishing seventh, which was just enough to qualify for the 2020 games.
Managing director Jerry Colangelo called out NBA stars for not showing up to the less glorified tournaments and said he would “notice and remember ... who didn't show up,” but it seems his roster may already be taking shape.
With a backcourt all but set — pending Thompson’s health — Team USA will be heavy favorites to win a third straight gold medal at the Olympics. If they can recruit a few more bigs and wings — looking at you, Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard — they’ll have a roster worthy of comparison to any past champions.
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