Back for a 4th Olympics run, LeBron James says gold is all that matters

July 6, 2024  -LAS VEGAS (AP) — He first played on the U.S. Olympic team as a 19-year-old. He did it again in his 20s, twice. And now, a few months from turning 40, he’s back for one more run.

LeBron James didn’t need another Olympic experience to complete some missing box on his resume or add to a legacy that was secured long, long ago. He decided to play this summer for one simple reason — because he wants to.

Taking his first steps toward becoming the first U.S. men’s basketball player to compete at the Olympics in three different decades, James hit the floor Saturday with the team that the Americans are sending to the Paris Games later this month. Training camp opened in Las Vegas, the start of a 5 1/2-week quest where the only acceptable ending will be the U.S. winning gold for a fifth consecutive time.

“I’m still playing a high level,” James, a three-time Olympic medalist — two golds and one bronze — said Saturday after the first workout. “I still love the game of basketball. And Team USA has done well by me, so I felt like it was important for this summer to be able to go out there and play with the rest of the guys.”

The first practice came on a day of another first for the James family; the workout in Las Vegas was simultaneous to the Los Angeles Lakers’ first game in the California Classic summer league — the pro debut of Bronny James, the son of the NBA’s all-time scoring leader.

It would have been very easy for James to ask for Day 1 off, to go see his son’s debut. It was never a consideration. He took the floor shortly after the buses rolled in, slapping hands with teammates, throwing down dunks and reconnecting with two of his former coaches — Erik Spoelstra and Tyronn Lue, both of whom won NBA titles with James on their squads.

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