Clippers star Leonard says he’s ready to play Tokyo Olympics

Published March 8, 2021, 9:23 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

Kawhi Leonard of the LA Clippers looks on during the game against the Washington Wizards on March 4, 2021 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. (Photo by Ned Dishman / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP)

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard says he’s eager to make his Olympic debut at the rescheduled Tokyo Games in July even if it means flying halfway around the world on tight timeline.

If the Clippers make a long run through the NBA post-season and reach the Finals, it might mean Leonard and some of his teammates would have little or no break between the end of the season and the start of the Olympic men’s basketball tournament.

“Right now my plan is to go,” Leonard told reporters in a virtual press conference on Sunday before the NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta.

“It doesn’t really matter on the success that we have. If I feel up to it and feel ready to go around that time then I’m going to play.”

The Clippers are one of the top contenders and the playoffs are scheduled to end July 22 if the Finals go a full seven games.

The Tokyo Opening ceremony is on July 23, and the United States play their first basketball game on July 25 against France.

Leonard has never represented the United States in an Olympics. In Tokyo, he would also be reunited with his former San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

Leonard was named a finalist for Team USA last year but the Games were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

His Clippers teammate Paul George, who won a gold medal for the US at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, was also picked for the team.

USA Basketball sent invitations out two months ago to around 60 players regarding their inclusion in the pool from which the team will be selected.