Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul has announced that he will not be participating for Team USA at the 2016 Olympics in Rio this summer.
Paul confirmed the news to Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated on Monday and, after a decade of contribution to USA Basketball, he has now seemingly brought and end to his international career.
“I feel my body telling me that I could use the time,” Paul said, via SI.com.
The decision must not have been an easy one for Paul, who has never been shy to express his pride at representing Team USA.
“What we do is such a small thing compared to what the people do who protect our freedom,” he said. “But when I put on that USA jersey it always gave me goose bumps because you realized you were part of something so much bigger than yourself.”
Paul turns 31 next month and his decision shouldn't come as a surprise after the extra energy and responsibility he has taken on this season with Blake Griffin missing from the Clippers' lineup since December 25.
With Griffin set to make a return to the team when his suspension ends after the next few games, Paul will be able to defer a bit more, but the rigours of a long playoff run will also take its toll on his body.
He has hardly been through a summer where he hasn't been injured, recovering from injury or playing for Team USA.
Reminiscing on the best and worst times with the national team, the nine-time All-star looks back on the loss to Greece at the 2006 World Championship as a low point in his USA Basketball career.
“I remember sitting at my locker,” Paul recalled, “trying to figure out how we were going to go back home."
He has fonder memories, however, of the 2008 and 2012 Olympics in Beijing and London after winning the gold medal on both occasions.
“Coming from where we were,” Paul said, “that was the best feeling.”
The 30 finalists for the 2016 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team initially included Paul, but his withdrawal opens up a spot for another point guard. But Paul doesn't feel his absence will have any effect on the team as there is an elite group of point guards still on the list.
He does, however, have a preference for who should be considered.
“Of course, you’ll have Steph (Curry) and those guys,” Paul said. “Someone else I think would be great is Kyle Lowry. I love watching him play. You need that grit.”
Paul was fortunate enough to play with his good friends LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade during the previous Olympics. Wade didn't make the list of 30 finalists for 2016 but it'll be interesting to see if James and Anthony, who did make it, follow Paul's suit and opt out of international duty and allow the next generation of Team USA stars to take centre stage.