NBA

LeBron James expected to play in London ahead of Paris Olympics

By Sports Desk December 14, 2023

LeBron James has been tipped to play in London before heading to the Olympics with the United States as two warm-up games have been scheduled for the reigning gold medallists.

Los Angeles Lakers star James has hinted he wants to be part of the squad that heads to Paris looking to win a fifth successive men’s basketball gold – having not featured at an Olympics since London 2012.

The United States will face South Sudan on July 20 and Germany two days later with both games taking place at the O2 Arena as preparations ramp up for the Olympics.

Speaking to the PA news agency, seven-time NBA All-Star and 1996 gold medallist Grant Hill believes there is every chance James could make the trip to Europe despite missing the previous two Games.

“That’s definitely a possibility and we’re grateful with this programme that LeBron and Kevin Durant and plenty others have expressed a willingness and a desire to be a part of it,” he said.

“I think it speaks to the culture of USA Basketball. Many of these guys who have talked publicly had been a part of it in years past and are wanting to be a part of it again.

“Then you have some great players who haven’t been a part of USA basketball, haven’t played on the FIBA stage, who want to be a part of this. So that’s a really good thing.

“It’s a really positive thing – we’ve got the instruments, we got all these guys, so let’s put the pieces together.”

The US could win an unparalleled 17th men’s basketball gold having dominated the sport since it joined the Olympic programme in 1936.

Hill, though, believes there is added pressure with the expectation of being perennial champions.

“There are so many incredibly talented international teams,” he said.

“We have to respect our opponents. We have to respect how difficult this is but the heat is on in this pressure and that’s a good thing.

“You want that and the best of the best have become comfortable in those pressure situations because they know it means something and it’s something of value.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by ? (@kingjames)

 

South Sudan have qualified for the men’s basketball for the first time and are the lowest-ranked nation to do so since 2004, while Germany are the reigning World Cup champions.

“These are not friendly matches, this is serious,” Hill said of the fixtures in London.

“When we play here in London next summer it is the start your preparation. Then the next thing you know you’re in Paris and so it’s just a small window to get yourself ready.

“So you need quality opponents, which we have, and there’s a sense of urgency every time we step on the court.”

:: Tickets to see USA Basketball play Germany and South Sudan at London’s O2 arena go on sale Friday December 15, 1pm at ticketek.com

Related items

  • NBA legend Walton dies at 71 NBA legend Walton dies at 71

    Basketball legend Bill Walton died Monday at the age of 71.

    The NBA announced he passed away following a prolonged battle with cancer.

    During a 10-year professional career, Walton won a pair of NBA titles and was named the 1977-78 league MVP. He was also included on the NBA's 50th anniversary and 75th anniversary teams.

    He was the No. 1 overall pick of the 1974-75 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers following a brilliant collegiate career that saw him win a pair of national titles at UCLA and earn three national player of the year awards.

    "Bill Walton was truly one of a kind," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

    He helped redefine the centre position, but his career was cut short by foot injuries.

    After averaging 17.1 points and 13.5 rebounds in his first four seasons with the Trail Blazers, he averaged 10.2 points and 8.1 boards in his final six seasons with the Clippers and Celtics.

    He led Portland to the 1976-77 NBA title, while being named Finals MVP, and later won a championship with Boston in 1985-86.

    He retired after playing just 10 games in the 1986-87 season, and was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

    Following his playing career, Walton became a star broadcaster for decades. He became known for his colourful broadcasting style, where he enthusiastically offered high praise and also blunt criticism.

    "What I will remember most about him was his zest for life," Silver said. "He was a regular presence at league events – always upbeat, smiling ear to ear and looking to share his wisdom and warmth. "

     

  • 'He's born for clutch situations' - Doncic salutes 'Mr Fourth Quarter' Irving 'He's born for clutch situations' - Doncic salutes 'Mr Fourth Quarter' Irving

    Luka Doncic says Kyrie Irving was "born for the clutch situations" as the Dallas Mavericks produced another late show to deny the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    The Mavs, who overcame a late two-point deficit, prevailed 116-107 in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals series, becoming the first NBA side in history to take a 3-0 series lead despite trailing in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter in each game.

    Dallas had the second-best clutch record (23-9) and best clutch offence (127.1 points per 100 possessions) during the regular season, and have continued that momentum into the playoffs.

    Indeed, they also came from behind late on in Game 6 of their conference semi-final series victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    Irving scored 14 points in the fourth quarter in Game 3, and now has 31 such points this series; the most by any player in this year's conference finals.

    "Unbelievable. That's why some people call him Mr Fourth Quarter, right?" Doncic said of his team-mate. "Just amazing. He's born for these situations. He's born for the clutch situations, so we just get the ball to him."

    "Down the stretch, that's where we make our money," Irving added. "I think we have that poise now, and we're just showcasing our skill sets out there that a lot of teams have to guard, the depth that we have. A lot of teams have to guard each one of us, and you got to pick your poison."

    Irving and Doncic scored 33 points apiece to become the first starting backcourt to each register at least 30 points in three playoff games over the past 50 seasons.

    "I feel like we're both born for this if you ask me, but it's just basketball. You've got to give the game what it needs at times," said Irving, who called for focus in his franchise's quest for a second NBA title.

    "It doesn't mean anything if we don't win a ring together. Right now, I want to show a lot of respect to the guys that have come before us and have actually done it. And our time will come."

  • NBA: Doncic and Irving shine as Mavericks take 3-0 lead on Timberwolves NBA: Doncic and Irving shine as Mavericks take 3-0 lead on Timberwolves

    Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving each scored 33 points to send the Dallas Mavericks a win away from reaching the NBA Finals with Sunday's 116-107 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. 

    WIth its star guard tandem leading the way, the fifth-seeded Mavericks dominated the game's final five minutes to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Dallas can eliminate the third-seeded Timberwolves and earn its first trip to the Finals since 2011 when it hosts Game 4 on Tuesday.

    No team in NBA history has come back to win a best-of-seven play-off series after losing the first three games.

    That's the challenge now facing Minnesota, which clung to a 104-102 lead with five minutes left before the Mavericks seized control for good with a 14-1 run.

    Anthony Edwards finished with 26 points for the Timberwolves, but just four of those came in the pivotal fourth quarter. Minnesota's other All-Star, Karl-Anthony Towns, was held scoreless in the final period after recording 14 points over the first three quarters.

    Irving had 14 fourth-quarter points and six during the deciding spurt, which he began with a driving layup that tied the game at 104-104 with 4:35 left. P.J. Washington then sent Dallas ahead by knocking down a 3-pointer on its next possession, and the Mavericks held Minnesota without a field goal until Edwards scored the game's final points on a layup with 15.3 seconds left.

    Dallas built a lead as large as 12 points in the first half and went into the break with a 60-52 advantage behind Doncic's 15 points and 14 from Irving. The Mavericks were up by 10 near the midway stage of the third quarter before Minnesota reversed momentum with an 13-1 run.

    Edwards had eight straight points during the flurry, along with an assist on Naz Reid's layup that gave the Timberwolves a 79-77 edge with 3:54 left in the third. 

    Three-point shooting also played a part in Dallas' victory, as the Mavs finished 14 of 28 from beyond the arc. The Timberwolves were 9 of 30 from 3-point range, with Towns missing all eight of his attempts. 

     

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.