Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin will pass on a chance to play for Team USA at the FIBA World Cup this summer.
Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today confirmed the news on Twitter:
As as been tweeted, Clippers indeed announce Blake Griffin will not play for USA Basketball at FIBA World Cup in Spain this summer.— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) July 24, 2014
Griffin later issued his own statement on the matter, via Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:
Griffin in a statement: "I want to focus and dedicate 100% of my energy on improving and preparing frmo the upcoming season w/the Clippers— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) July 24, 2014
Team USA's managing director, Jerry Colangelo, voiced his disappointment (via USA Today's Sam Amick).
"I'm disappointed he's not going to be with us," Colangelo said. "It's unfortunate (because) it's been two competitions in a row (that Griffin has missed), but it sounds like a broken record because it happened recently with someone else."
Nima Zarrabi of SLAM Magazine notes that this is a strange turn of events after the player agreed to join the team:
Strange that Blake Griffin would pass on this opportunity w/out injury. Wonder if Jordan brand is disappointed. News feels incomplete.— Nima Zarrabi (@NimaZarrabi_) July 25, 2014
The power forward is coming off the best year of his career, in which he ranked sixth in the NBA with an average of 24.1 points per game. He also added 9.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per contest while helping the Clippers earn the third-best record in the league.
Is this a smart move for Blake Griffin?
After being named to his fourth All-Star Game in as many years, Griffin has proved himself to be one of the top offensive frontcourt players in the world. He has become an elite all-around performer who can score in a number of different ways while still being one of the best athletes around.
So it comes as no surprise that he was named to the preliminary United States roster for the World Cup in Spain. However, he has apparently decided that his time will be better served trying to help his own team.
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski will now have to find a way to replace him with his other options. Fortunately, this should not be too much of a problem with Kevin Love, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins all at his disposal down low.
The Americans are the defending champions of this event, but that 2010 gold medal was only the first since 1994. Of course, the squad will remain the favorite even without Griffin as it hopes to build some momentum heading into the 2016 Olympics.