LeBron James isn’t ready to make any decision about playing for Team USA during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but if he does opt in Gregg Popovich will have a lot to do with it.
“It factors a lot,” James said at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ shootaround Saturday morning, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “I’ve said that before. He’s just a great mastermind of the game of basketball.”
James also said the U.S. national team is in good hands with the legendary head coach of the San Antonio Spurs.
“Team USA is in good hands with him,” James, a gold medalist in 2008 and 2012, told the Associated Press at the time. “It was in good hands with Coach K. It’s almost like ‘The Godfather.’ We hand it off to Michael Corleone now.”
Popovich is replacing Mike Krzyzewski as the lead man for the U.S. men’s national senior team and has experience as an assistant for the 2004 team that won bronze in Athens, Greece. He has garnered plenty of praise from James in the past. Earlier this week, the Cleveland Cavaliers forward called Pop “the greatest coach of all time.”
If James does opt to play for the U.S. national team in 2020, he’ll head to Tokyo at the age of 35 for his fourth go in the Olympics. The third-leading Olympic scorer behind Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant, he would have a chance to earn his third career gold medal and potentially pass them up to become the all-time scoring leader in American Olympic history.
Though, it’s worth pointing out that James opted not to play in Rio this past summer because he was so spent after leading the Cavs to their first title in the 2016 NBA Finals. With that in mind, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be more inclined to pursue his fourth Olympics four years later, especially considering his swelling offcourt interests.