Russell Westbrook withdraws from Team USA, 2016 Rio Olympics

By Jesse Reed

After conferring with his immediate family, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook has withdrawn from playing in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“After speaking with my family, I have decided to not participate in this year’s Olympics,” Westbrook said in a statement, via Marc J. Spears of ESPN. “This was not an easy decision, as representing my country at the World Championships in 2010 and the Olympics in 2012 were career highlights for me. I look forward to future opportunities as a member of USA Basketball.”

One can speculate that there were likely a few¬†reasons for Westbrook’s decision.

First and foremost, he’s likely just fried after another failed attempt to bring a championship home with the Thunder.

Secondly, he’s put a ton of mileage on his body the past half-decade. On top of his previous international play, which he mentioned in his statement, Westbrook has played deep into the NBA Playoffs in almost every year since 2010. Since that time, he’s played the equivalent of an entire season (82 playoff games).

Finally, this decision might have something to so with the Zika virus that has caused other Olympic athletes to pull out.

Either way, Team USA will miss his presence. That said, his absence will inevitably open the door for some of the younger guards on the roster to make a name for themselves this summer in Rio. Interestingly, Westbrook’s teammate (who might not be his teammate next year) Kevin Durant recently said he is planning to¬†play for Team USA, despite his upcoming free-agency whirlwind.