On August 5, hundreds of American athletes will walk into Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã Stadium, waving to the crowd as they parade behind the United States flag, kicking off the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
NBA superstar Steph Curry will not be one of them.
Citing an assortment of nagging injuries, Curry made his decision public on Monday, bowing out of what would’ve been his first Olympic experience via a tweeted statement.
“After a great deal of internal thought and several discussions with my family, the Warriors and my representatives, I’ve elected to withdraw my name from the list of eligible players on Team USA’s preliminary roster for the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil,” it read.
My previous experiences with USA Basketball have been incredibly rewarding, educational and enjoyable, which made this an extremely difficult decision for me and my family. However, due to several factors -- including recent ankle and knee injuries -- I believe this is the best decision for me at this stage of my career. It’s an incredible honor to represent your country and wear "USA" on your chest, but my primary basketball-related objective this summer needs to focus on my body and getting ready for the 2016-17 NBA season.
Notably, the two-time Golden State Warriors MVP did not mention the Zika virus as a reason for his removal from the Rio roster. Many other athletes and even fellow NBA stars have, however, publicly expressed their concerns over the mosquito-born illness, which has been linked to neurological birth defects and has been wreaking havoc throughout Brazil.
Chicago Bulls power forward and longtime heart and soul of Spain’s national team Pau Gasol is the latest. Just last weekend he explained the dilemma facing these athletes -- and how it isn't just a matter of their own wellbeing, but that of their loved ones as well.
"Some of these athletes are planning to have children in the near future and this could affect them, it could affect the health of their kids and their wives," Gasol said.
For a guard whose knees and ankles are as valuable as they are fragile, Curry’s decision to abstain from the Games is understandable. The Warrior has been plagued by lower-body injuries all his career, and a pair of scares early in the 2016 playoffs served as a necessary, timely reminder at how tenuous his time on the court really is.
Add into the mix the gruesome leg injury Paul George suffered in a Team USA scrimmage in 2014, and one can see why Curry would want to be wary.
With or without Curry, Team USA will be the heavy favorite heading into August’s competition. Now, it’ll simply have to get the gold done without the NBA’s Golden State star.