Team USA has just lost one of the best front court players in basketball. San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge has removed himself from Olympic consideration.
Marc Stein of ESPN is reporting that Aldridge is basing his decision on a hand injury that had been bothering him throughout the end of the regular season and into the playoffs.
This is the right choice for Aldridge to make. The Olympics is a fantastic opportunity to proudly represent your country in international competition, but Aldridge has an obligation to his employers to ensure that he doesn’t aggravate a lingering injury.
It would be a shame for the Spurs to have to deal with the aftermath of Aldridge playing in the Olympics and making his injury even worse.
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They’ve invested a lot of money in him to help lead the franchise into the post-Tim Duncan era, and making an injury worse while playing in a voluntary tournament like the Olympics would not be ideal.
This news came on an eventful day for Team USA basketball. Stephen Curry also announced that he would not be participating in the Olympics due to the injuries that he has sustained in this postseason.
The Olympics has been viewed in basketball circles more skeptically in recent years. The days of the Dream Team are gone; players no longer feel the obligation to attend the Olympics, and one can’t blame them, coaches, or executives for it. Important players risk fatigue or injury playing in something that can end up impacting the job that they’re actually paid millions of dollars to participate in.
This year’s Olympic participation has even more adversity attached to it with the dangers of the Zika virus looming. USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo is emphasizing that to date, no player in Team USA’s talent pool has dropped out due to concerns over the Zika virus, however.
The main priority for Aldridge this offseason will be to come back for the 2016-2017 NBA season fully healthy. Playing in the Olympics could impede that goal, so it’s hard to question his decision.