Stephen Curry says to expect him at the FIBA World Cup and 2020 Olympics
By Eric Freeman
Like many of the NBA’s best players, Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry did not travel to Rio de Janeiro to represent his country in the 2016 Summer Olympics. After a grueling season in which he set virtually every three-point record imaginable and injured himself during the playoffs, the back-to-back MVP and two-time FIBA World Cup gold medalist opted not to participate in Brazil. That decision only put Curry on the same level as such terrific players as LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Chris Paul, but it was certainly notable nonetheless. Fans certainly missed him, even if Team USA didn’t need him to capture gold.
Thankfully, Curry has good news for anyone hoping to see him in red, white, and blue while he’s still in his prime. In a new interview at FIBA.com, the sport’s preeminent perimeter threat says he intends to play at both the 2019 World Cup in China and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo:
“The way it went down this past year with the injury, it was the right decision,” Curry said to FIBA.com in his hometown of Charlotte, where he recently played for the Golden State Warriors against the Hornets.
“It was a tough one because I put a lot of equity into playing for Team USA and was looking forward to playing for the Olympic team for the first time.
“The decision for me personally was that it was best not to play, and to get ready for the season, to get healthy.
“Going forward, I do plan on playing at the World Cup (in 2019 in China), being healthy and being in a good position to be in Tokyo.”
“I love playing for the USA,” he said. “It was taking a lot not to be out there (last year). It’s just different and you get to play with the best in the NBA against the best in the world.
It’s important to note the venue here — Curry wouldn’t tell a FIBA entity that he hates international basketball — but his statement still seems pretty strong. Big-name players have pulled out of international tournaments with relatively minor injuries before, but most of them don’t commit to them more than two years ahead of time. LeBron, for instance, usually puts his participation in the Olympics up in the air until a few months before the event starts.
Plus, it would make sense for a big star like Curry to want to add an Olympic gold medal to his résumé. Curry had a good chance to make the 2012 Olympic team as a shooting threat, but he missed 40 of the 2011-12 season’s 66 games with ankle trouble and never got serious consideration because of it. At 28 years old, Curry lacks only that medal among major basketball accolades.
Yet one of the more compelling reason for Curry to play in these tournaments has little to do with basketball. Legitimately competitive events in China and Japan represent a big chance for him and other superstars to expand their global brands. Frankly, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the majority of the NBA’s big stars play in the next World Cup and Olympics. Representing your country is nice, but there’s no substitute for that kind of exposure.