Pyeongchang 2018

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LeBron takes first step to Tokyo 2020

LeBron James is in line to turn out for Team USA at Tokyo 2020.

James has been named in the initial squad of 35 for 2018 to 2020.

The 12-man roster for the 2019 World Cup and the Tokyo Games will come from that list.

If he makes the cut, James would join Carmelo Anthony as the only basketball player to represent USA in four Olympics.

LeBron and ‘Pop’ reunited

James skipped Rio 2016 but insisted he was not quitting international competition.

And the prospect of playing under Gregg Popovich has lured him back to the fold.

James has long been an admirer of ‘Coach Pop’ whose 21 years at the San Antonio Spurs is the longest active tenure in US major league sport.

In that time, the Spurs have won five NBA Championships with Popovich named Coach of the Year on three occasions.

When James reached 30,000 career NBA points in San Antonio in January, he said, “Man, I love Coach Pop. He’s one of my favourite guys ever.”

Popovic has unfinished business with the Olympics.

He was an assistant at Athens 2004 when USA were stunned by Argentina in the semi-finals.

That was also James’ first Games with the Cleveland Cavaliers ace going on to win gold at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

A squad to savour

The initial 35-man list includes some of the biggest names in basketball.

The 12 that emerge could be the strongest line-up since the original ‘Dream Team’ at Barcelona 1992.

Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook headline the list.

Like James, double gold medallist Chris Paul is back in the mix after missing Rio 2016.

Mike Conley Jr, son of 1992 triple jump gold medallist Mike Conley, is also in the squad.

Popovich will take charge for the first time at a mini training camp in Las Vegas in late July.

“This is quite an honour and humbling experience to be involved with USA Basketball and this group of players.

“Itโ€™s quite an idea or thought when you think about being on the court with all these players.

“Thereโ€™s a lot of talent there, these guys have friendships, they enjoy getting together. The culture has been established already.”

 

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