LeBron James joins Stephen Curry in pulling out of USA team at Olympics

Cleveland Cavaliers Lebron James celebrates the Cavaliers 2016 NBA Championship in downtown Cleveland

One of the world’s biggest sports star will not appear at this summer’s Olympics after LeBron James confirmed he will not play for the US basketball team.

James is coming off a long season, in which he led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA title, winning the city its first major sports title in 52 years. “I could use the rest,” James told cleveland.com.

As well as the desire to take some time off after being named the NBA finals MVP, the fact that James already has two Olympics golds to his name is likely to have played a part in his decision. He won gold in 2012 and 2008 with USA as well as bronze in 2004.

Concerns over the Zika virus and the political turmoil in Brazil have led several athletes to pull out of Rio 2016 but James’s decision is understood to have been solely for sporting reasons: he has played more minutes than any other player in the NBA over the last six seasons.

The Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski is already adjusting plans after stars such as Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge and Chris Paul said they will not play in Rio.

However, even without such talent Team USA are still heavy favorites to win gold: they are currently 1-14 with bookmakers. The next most favored team are Spain at 10-1.

USA Basketball will officially announce its 12-man roster for Rio next week, and Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson and Kyle Lowry are expected to be included.

Kevin Durant confirmed earlier this week that he intends to play in Rio, while sources have told The Undefeated that Paul George, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins also have committed to the US.

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