Clippers’ Chris Paul to withdraw from 2016 Olympics

Feb 12, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Western Conference guard Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers (3) speaks during media day for the 2016 NBA All Star Game at Sheraton Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 12, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Western Conference guard Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers (3) speaks during media day for the 2016 NBA All Star Game at Sheraton Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Clippers star guard Chris Paul is hanging up his Olympic jersey, reports Sports illustrated

The end of an era.

After being a key figure in the United States’ return to international dominance, first in 2008 with the ‘Redeem Team’ and in 2012, winning the gold both times, Clippers point guard Chris Paul has made the decision to retire from international play, telling Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins he’s withdrawing his name from consideration for the 2016 Brazil Olympics.

"After more than a decade of contribution to USA Basketball, Paul told on Monday that he is withdrawing from consideration for this summer’s Olympic team, likely ending his international career. “I feel my body telling me that I could use the time,” he said."

The numbers weren’t impressive whenever Paul stepped foot on the court for Team USA but that never stopped Paul from making an impact. In the Beijing Olympics (2008), Paul came off the bench, paired with Deron Williams to create a 1-2 punch for there serves unit, averaging 8 points, 4 assists, and 2 steals en route to gold with the Redeem Team. In 2012, Paul stepped into Jason Kidd‘s starting role, averaging much of the same numbers (8-5-2) en route to another gold.

The run perfectly represented Paul’s time as the best point guard in the world, snatching the mantle from one Steve Nash and running with it until Stephen Curry decided enough was enough. Besides the best players in the world, Paul still commanded the field as a Peyton Manning could, regardless the tantalizing talent surrounding him, and when Chris led, his peers followed, making for one of the better viewings on a basketball court fans could come across in the last 10 years or so.

Looking to the future of USA Olympic basketball, no Paul opens the door for Stephen Curry to carry the mantle as starting point guard for Team USA for however long he chooses to participate in the extracurricular activity. But the real intrigue? Who gets Paul’s spot on the roster now that the vet is out.

Outside of Curry, the other point guards listed for consideration were Mike Conley (Memphis), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland), John Wall (Washington), and Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City). The one notable name not on the list? Portland’s Damian Lillard, and Paul’s absence may open the door for the All-Star point guard to be invited to camp.

Of the five, Irving and Westbrook have previous Team USA experience, with Westbrook being present during the previous Olympics during the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and Irving appearing at the latter, winning MVP of the event as USA took the gold.

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Looking past Paul’s potential replacements, Chris’s departure puts into question whether his peers will do the same come summer time. Whether it be LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, or another older NBA player. Like Paul, these guys have amassed a ton of wear and tear on their bodies over the past few years and given the talent USA has on their side, if they decide to skip out to preserve themselves for future seasons,

In light of Paul’s news, Anthony has reaffirmed he’ll be present in Brazil, hoping to regain the winning feel, a feel absent from the New York Knicks as of the last two seasons.

As for James and Wade, they’ve yet to guarantee anything. The summer could be a long one for James if the Cavaliers repeat their success of last season and find themselves in the NBA Finals, win or lose, and for the oldest 31-year old in the NBA history he may look to avoid the wear and tear that comes with extending his ‘season’ into the off-season. The same applies to Wade, though his Heat may not stumble upon the same success as the Cavaliers — age and wear-and-tear is always a thing for 3-time champion given how his career has played out the last few years or so.

Next: Clippers’ Chris Paul endorses Kyle Lowry for Olympic team

If anything, Paul’s exit is a reminder that all good things must come to an end, and a somber reminder Paul’s end in general is growing closer. We’re seeing many stars of yesterday’s past (Duncan, Bryant, Garnett) prepare for the end and the next generation isn’t too far removed from that boat, and Paul is one of them.

Until then though.