Westbrook "Won't Participate" In Rio Olympics
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Thunder superstar point guard Russell Westbrook is the latest NBA star to decide not to risk playing in this summer’s Olympic Games in Brazil.
Westbrook did not give a specific reason for pulling his name out of consideration but the Zika virus, spread mostly by mosquitoes, has hit Brazil hard. Some health experts have even urged the Olympic Games either be postponed or moved from Brazil to another country.
There are also ongoing problems with some of the Olympic venues and massive pollution problems which plague the area.
“After speaking with my family, I have decided not to participate in this year’s Olympics,” Westbrook said in a statement released through the Thunder. “This was not an easy decision, as representing my country at the World Championships in 2010 and the Olympics in 2012 were career highlights for me. I look forward to future opportunities as a member of USA Basketball.”
Westbrook and superstar teammate Kevin Durant were named finalists for the USA Olympic team in January and were all but assured of spots on the squad. Durant has maintained in the last couple of weeks he still plans to play in Rio despite the various concerns.
Thunder GM Sam Presti was asked during his news conference on Monday whether he would talk with Westbrook, Durant and any of the team’s foreign players who might be considering the Olympics.
“Those are personal decisions for them, and we've always been really supportive of USA Basketball and always been supportive of our players' wishes in that respect,” Presti said then. “I don't want to speak for them because I don't know exactly where they are, but we'll pick those conversations up as they get closer to training camp and be supportive of whatever they decide.”
Westbrook is the fourth point guard to withdraw from the finalist pool of 31 players. Chris Paul, Steph Curry and John Wall have also said they would not participate. Power forward LaMarcus Aldridge has made the same decision.
Westbrook and Durant helped Team USA to gold medals in the 2010 FIBA World Championship and the 2012 Olympics in London.