Why Do Top NBA Players Don’t Play In The Olympics (The Truth)

Why don’t we see a lot of NBA superstars playing in the Olympics anymore?

Do they don’t want to play or are there other reasons?

The most common reasons for NBA superstars to skip the Olympics are due to injuries, exhaustion from the season, or they just don’t want to participate or there aren’t just enough merits to it.

But why are some superstars like Kevin Durant still playing in the Olympics? In this post, you’ll find out all the answers to your questions!

Why do Top NBA Players Don’t Play in the Olympics?

We used to see the NBA’s biggest stars play in the Olympics. But nowadays, most of the roster are all-stars to one or three superstars at most.

What happened? Why don’t the best NBA players want to play for their country?

We researched this and this is what we found. Here are the common reasons why the best NBA players opt out of the Olympics.

1. Injuries/Fatigue

The most common reason or obvious answer would be that the NBA player is currently injured. A lot of NBA players get injured throughout a season.

Superstars are the most prone to injury since they usually play the most minutes in their team. So, they just can’t play in the Olympics.

But even if they’re not injured, some superstars are wise and wouldn’t want to risk an injury. Playing for the Olympics is a great honor, but they risk getting injured every time they play.

So, a lot of thought and talks go into each NBA superstar’s decision on whether he will play in the Olympics. For some, the risk is just not worth it.

Another reason is fatigue. Each NBA team plays 82 games in a season. This doesn’t include the playoffs which can take 28 additional games at most.

Playing in the most competitive basketball league is enough for NBA players to get exhausted. Add in the factor that they play a lot of games, and you’ll see why they don’t want to play in the Olympics.

2. Not enough merit to it

The NBA is the premiere basketball league in the world. Millions of hopeful players are dreaming to go into the league but only 450+ players get in.

As such, when they do get in, they have a lot to prove. They do everything they can to earn more money by improving their skills. As a result, the best players are paid hundreds of millions of dollars.

They also get endorsements from big companies, get popular and even get featured on TV, magazines, and social media.

But compared to the Olympics, there’s not much merit to playing in it. Although they do get a per diem from USA basketball and other bonus, they don’t get a lot from it.

If you think about it, they’re risking their career in the NBA just to play in the Olympics for essentially nothing. Although the honor is enough for some, it’s nothing compared to what they had to go through to get in the NBA.

So, a lot of top NBA players just don’t want to risk getting injured just to play for their country. They’re not even required to do so, why would they?

3. Preferences/Other concerns

A lot of NBA players dream of playing in the Olympics. Although that is the case, some don’t share the same dream.

They may have their own preferences. For instance, an NBA player doesn’t want to partake in the Olympics because he wants to spend his time with his family.

Each player has their own priorities and preferences. They can’t be forced to play.

There are also other concerns such as their safety when playing in a foreign land. While they may have the tightest security, a lot of things can still go wrong.

These are just some of the reasons why they may not play in the Olympics.

Why are Some of the Best NBA Players Still Play in the Olympics?

In 2021, Kevin Durant, one of the best superstars in the NBA played in the Tokyo Olympics. Even though a lot of NBA stars opted out such as Curry and LeBron, Durant still played.

Durant said that he committed to playing in USA basketball when he was coming out of college.

Along with Durant, some top NBA player also participated in the roster such as Devin Booker, Bam Adebayo, Draymond Green, Jrue Holiday, Zach Lavine, Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum, and Khris Middleton.

This roster is far from what we’re used to seeing from Team USA in the Olympics.

For instance, the 2008 Team USA Olympic roster was stacked. It was spearheaded by Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwight Howard.

But due to the reasons we listed above, a lot of NBA superstar nowadays won’t play in the Olympics.

Durant is one of the few exceptions perhaps because of his love for the game, circumstance, and right timing.

With that said, ultimately the decision to play lies in an NBA superstar.

Do Foreign NBA Players Participate in the Olympics?

A lot of foreign NBA players also join in the Olympics, but they play for their home team. Even though they’re playing in the NBA, which is in the USA, they want to represent their home teams.

For instance, Pau Gasol, a former NBA champion played for his native country Spain in Tokyo Olympics. He has been playing for his country even before he retired in the NBA.

Foreign players playing for their native country is only fair since Team USA has been dominating the Olympics for decades.

Aside from the Olympics, foreign players also join their native countries for FIBA World Cups.

Which NBA Players Have the Most Olympic Medals?

A lot of NBA players have represented Team USA in the Olympics ever since they were allowed to in 1992.

But who are the NBA player with the most Olympic medals? We found out below:

NBA PlayerNo. of Olympic Medals
1. Carmelo Anthony4
2. Kevin Durant3
3. David Robinson3
4. LeBron James3
5. Michael Jordan2

Surprisingly, Carmelo Anthony has won the most Olympic medals out of all NBA players in Team USA. He bagged three gold medals and a bronze medal.

The Future of Team USA in the Olympics and FIBA World Cup

Team USA has won 15 Gold medals in the Olympics and 5 Gold medals at the FIBA World Cup over the decades.

It’s clear that they’re the teams that dominate the world basketball cups. The most obvious reason for this is because the NBA holds the best talents in the world.

But that may soon change as more and more foreign players are getting in the NBA. We’re seeing European talents evolve at a tremendous rate as they always pose the most threat to Team USA.

And with top NBA players refusing to play for the Olympics, the reign of Team USA in the Olympics may be over. Although they may still win here and there, they may not be able to keep up their consistent streak thanks to rising competition.

We’re seeing more foreign generational talents like Doncic, Antetokounmpo, Jokic and Embiid in the NBA right now. So, who knows which country will take home the next Olympic gold?  

Final Thoughts

The Olympics is a prestigious event hold every four years for nations to compete in various sports. But over the past Olympic events, NBA players are refusing to play due to reasons like risk of injury, exhaustion, and other concerns.

Foreign talents are also on the rise in the NBA. This is why we might see more competitive Olympics in the future.

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