MIAMI — LeBron James is in position to make Olympic history.
No player ever has won three men’s basketball gold medals. It’s looking very possible James could change that.
On the heels of Mike Krzyzewski having committed to return as Team USA coach, the Miami Heat star said he’s hopeful of playing in his fourth Olympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. He so far has won two golds and a bronze.
“It would be great,” James said before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against Indiana about the possibility of playing in another. “First, I’ve got to make sure I stay healthy. If I’m fortunate enough to be healthy, I would love to represent my country again. But that’s a long time from now.’’
James will be 31 when the next Olympics come around and presumably still in his prime. Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Deron Williams also have a chance in 2016 to win a third gold medal. Kobe Bryant is another active player who has two, but he isn’t expected back.
Krzyzewski, who led Team USA to Olympic golds in 2008 and 2012, will return for the 2014 World Cup in Spain and for the 2016 Olympics. The Duke coach has a chance to become the first coach to lead a team to three Olympic men’s basketball gold medals. He is tied with Hank Iba, who led the Americans to golds in 1964 and 1968.
“I think that’s great,’’ James said of Krzyzewski returning. “What he means to USA Basketball just beyond what we do on the court, what we stand for as Americans and being proud to wear the red, white and blue every time we step off the bus or practice or talk to the media or whatever the case might be. I think it’s great.’’
Krzyzewski initially said he would not return before changing his mind. James said he would have supported Krzyzewksi regardless of what he did.
“I got the utmost respect and trust for Coach K and whatever his decision was going to be, I think we all support that.,’’ James said.
James won a bronze medal in Athens in 2004 before getting golds under Krzyzewski in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London. He’s one of 16 players men’s basketball Olympians (all Americans) to have won two golds.