The Los Angeles Lakers stars are banged up. Each played through injuries in their first-round playoff loss to the Phoenix Suns, though Davis couldn’t get through all the games.
ESPN analyst Brooke Weisbrod told NewsNation’s Marni Hughes Tuesday that health is paramount for the game’s biggest stars.
“For those two players, we would love to see play for Team USA, their health has to be their priority, and to fly to Japan to put their bodies through that stress and that test of putting them back out there on the floor against the world’s greatest players is not going to do any any service to them and their bodies to get them ready for next season,” she said.
The article says other NBA stars are still making up their minds. Steph Curry? “50-50.” Damian Lillard? Interested but undecided.
Complicating the decision for some of the game’s biggest stars is the tight turnaround from the NBA postseason to the Olympics. The NBA Finals could be played as late as July 22 this year.
In normal years, the NBA Finals would be underway by now and players would have at least a few weeks before Olympic training camp starts in July, but the pandemic is still rippling through the league’s rhythm.
The 2020 season ended on Oct. 11, about four months late. The current season started Dec. 22, more than two months late — and much closer to the end of the previous season than normal.
James and Davis played in games on both of those nights.
The NBA is dealing with an unusual amount of injuries to its star players, and some believe the spring to play 72 regular season games from December through May wore them down.
There are also COVID-19 concerns in Tokyo, where less than 5% of the country is vaccinated. The country banned foreign spectators from the games, and the U.S. has advised Americans not to travel there, but it’s not blocking its athletes from competing.
“The bigger concern is what are the safety measures?” Weisbrod said. “What is Japan doing to make sure that there’s a bubble like environment for the players to be able to be safe, make sure that there’s adequate testing, there’s that there’s totally just great facilities for them to be able to go about their day, go to practice, and then to feel safe. That’s just the most important thing right now.”