Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James admitted Wednesday he's missed playing with Team USA at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but he didn't fully commit to a return in 2020.
Rachel Nichols of ESPN spoke with the three-time NBA champion about a range of topics for an interview set to air Thursday. She provided a preview of the discussion, including his thoughts about a possible return to the United States national team in Tokyo.
"Every time I watch 'em, I wish I was out there," James said. "I did not retire from Team USA. I just did not play this summer. So I left the door open."
James announced shortly after the Cavs finished their NBA Finals comeback triumph over the Golden State Warriors that he wouldn't make the trip to Brazil with the American delegation.
"I could use the rest," he told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
Ultimately, the 31-year-old veteran and the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, who have combined to win six of the past eight MVP awards, both opted against playing for Team USA. Curry cited lingering ankle and knee injuries as key reasons for his decision.
The general consensus still pointed toward the United States rolling to a gold medal. The journey has proved far more difficult than it looked on paper, however, with the Americans winning their last two games against Serbia and France by just three points apiece.
While Team USA may still end up winning gold, the close calls show the gap isn't large enough for the best two players in the world to stay at home. It's been a grind, and that will likely remain the case throughout the knockout stages.
All told, a lot can change in the span of four years, which is likely why James didn't guarantee he'll be in Tokyo. He already has a lot of mileage on his body because of his teams' annual playoff runs, and that probably won't change with Cleveland being the class of the Eastern Conference.
That said, he'll be 35 when the next Summer Games roll around, which could make it his last chance to compete on the Olympic stage. Add in the arrival of new USA head coach Gregg Popovich, whom James has always shown respect for during his battles with the San Antonio Spurs, and a return seems likely.