HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Chris Paul knows exactly what that chest-swelling experience is like when you represent your country in the Olympics and return home with gold around your neck.
That experience, twice, and a living coaching legend like Mike Krzyzewski have served as incentive for Paul to reconsider his future participation with USA Basketball, namely for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“If it had been another coach than Coach K, I was prepared to be done,” Paul told ESPN.com over the weekend.
A healthy dose of peer pressure probably didn’t hurt the cause. Pau’s teammates on the gold medal winning team from the 2012 London Olympics, Kevin Durant and Kevin Love, officially signed on for next summer’s World Cup of Basketball in Spain and 2016 during last week’s USA Basketball mini-camp in Las Vegas.
Paul reconsidering could have an impact on other veteran stars (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, etc.) who were ready to move on and leave coveted slots on the Men’s Senior National Team’s roster for both tournaments to younger stars.
There’s no shortage of talent, especially at point guard. Paul could be in competition with the likes of Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry and a host of others vying for a roster spot in 2016. There were eight point guards on the mini-camp roster last week in Las Vegas.
But Paul would seem to be a lock for 2016 given his relationship with Coach K and the fact that he’s already earned golds in Beijing in 2008 and in London last summer. Three years is plenty of time for Paul and any other members of that 2012 team to reconsider their options. Not all of them are expected to even consider the possibility of another run in 2016, but USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo made it clear last week that the door remains open for at least a handful of those stars to rejoin the player pool that will produce the 12-man roster for Rio.
And as of today, only Durant and Love are committed for both Spain next summer and Rio in 2016.