OAKLAND, Calif. — LeBron James is thrilled the International Olympic Committee has approved a plan to add 3-on-3 basketball but you won’t be seeing him represent Team USA in Tokyo in 2020.
“I think it’s great for basketball,” James said Sunday. “For us to be able to add another category to the Olympics, another basketball category, I think it’s pretty great. I haven’t seen the full layout of how they plan on executing it; and are they going to use NBA guys or are going to use college guys?”
The IOC voted to add the sport on Friday. It will have eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams competing. As far as what teams are selected and how teams qualify, that’s still unclear.
The world basketball governing body, FIBA, has been conducting events for years. This summer a new three-on-three league, BIG3, is launching with a series of former stars, including Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups and Jermaine O’Neal, slated to be among the players.
James won gold medals with Team USA in 2008 and 2012 and a bronze in 2004. He retired from Team USA after the London Olympics.
“I’m not very good in a three-on-three thing, I’m more of a five-on-five guy,” James said. “I stay out of the one-on-one matchups during our practice, the two-on-twos and the three-on-threes. So probably not. I probably won’t be a part of the three-on-three matchup that it has to offer.”
The best Cav at such a format, some players say, wouldn’t be James anyway but teammate Kyrie Irving.
“Kyrie for sure,” JR Smith said. “He’s probably the best one-on-one player already. And Kyle [Korver] would be a really good three-on-three player because he moves without the ball and he can catch-and-shoot the [expletive] out of it.”
“I grew up playing street ball so to have 3-on-3 a part of the Olympics I think it’s also something guys can win that are not pro athletes,” Green said. “So I think that could be really good. You see in these other sports where they go compete in the Olympics but they have regular day jobs. I think that can be like that for 3-on-3. So I think that can be great.”
The rules for Olympic 3-on-3 include shots outside the FIBA 3-point line being worth two points and all other baskets worth one point. There will be a 12-second shot clock and a 10-minute game clock with the game being played in half court where teams will have to “take it out” beyond the 2-point line before each possession.
“They don’t want just the basketball powers to compete in 3-on-3,” said USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley. “FIBA will get together and figure out how teams will qualify. They will definitely want to reward countries that have been doing a lot of 3-on-3 activities.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.