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Stephen Curry says 2024 is right time to make Olympic debut

                                Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry shoots between New Orleans Pelicans guards Jose Alvarado, left, and Dyson Daniels on Friday.
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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry shoots between New Orleans Pelicans guards Jose Alvarado, left, and Dyson Daniels on Friday.

Golden State guard Stephen Curry knew he was running out of chances to play in what would be his first Olympics, so he and his wife Ayesha started planning many months ago about how to make the Paris Games work for their family.

Their growing family, that is.

Ayesha Curry revealed in March that she is pregnant with the couple’s fourth child and the baby is due in June. That’s not entirely by accident; the couple thought ahead with hopes of keeping the Olympic months of July and August clear — just in case.

“We thought about it ahead of time, which was nice,” Curry said. “If the timing didn’t work at a certain month in the fall, we actually would have made a different decision knowing the Olympics were on the radar. So, thankfully, the Lord looked out for us and if everything goes to plan, I’ll be available this summer.”

That is, indeed, the plan. Curry was one of the 12 names formally announced by USA Basketball today as the initial roster for this year’s Paris Olympics. It’s entirely possible that the roster gets tweaked between now and the first practice in early July — injuries or long playoff runs could spark changes — but Curry has been planning to make his Olympic debut this summer for some time.

“I wanted to play in the last two that I was eligible for,” Curry said, referring to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and the Tokyo Games that were delayed to 2021 because of the pandemic. “Watching guys that I’ve been competing against the last 10 years all have that experience win gold medals, watching three of my teammates (Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green) win gold medals, I knew I wanted to do that.”

It would be logical to think that part of the recruitment pitch to Curry this time around was the fact that the Olympic team is coached by Steve Kerr, his coach with the Warriors.

That wasn’t really the case. Curry had talks with Durant and LeBron James about teaming up — those talks sparked in part by the U.S. taking a less star-studded team to the World Cup at Manila last summer and finishing fourth — but Kerr wasn’t pushing his best player to play this year.

“He wanted to do it,” Kerr said. “He’s excited. I think 2016 would have been the year that made the most sense. In 2020, there was the pandemic. But I’ve never had the discussion with him. Going to the Finals wears you down and we had gone in 2015 and 2016. Then 2021 comes around, there was the pandemic, but now, it makes perfect sense. It’s another box to check in his career.”

There aren’t too many of those boxes unchecked. And this might really be the last one of any significance left.

He’s the NBA’s all-time 3-point recordholder, a four-time NBA champion, 10-time All-Star, nine-time (and probably soon to be 10-time) All-NBA selection, a two-time scoring champion, a two-time MVP, a Finals MVP, an All-Star MVP and a member of the league’s 75th anniversary team. He even helped put together one of the more memorable moments in All-Star history this year, when he faced off with WNBA star Sabrina Ionescu — someone he simultaneously mentors and admires — in a 3-point contest.

The legacy has long been secure. But a little extra gold wouldn’t hurt.

“That’s the goal,” Curry said.

Curry and the Warriors won 46 games this season but didn’t make the NBA playoffs, falling to Sacramento on Tuesday in an elimination game of the Western Conference play-in tournament, 118-94. So, the next time he’s slated to play for real is now July, when the Americans convene for training camp in Las Vegas. The U.S. opens Olympic play against Serbia on July 28.

Curry has played with “USA” across his chest plenty of times before, going back 17 years. He was on the under-19 team that won gold at the 2007 Global Games and won silver in that year’s U19 world championships — “that burned,” Curry said, “because you hate losing at anything.”

He hasn’t lost a game with the national team since — 18 games, 18 wins. The Americans went 9-0 on their way to gold at the 2010 world championship (now called the World Cup), then went 9-0 on the way to another gold at the World Cup in 2014.

“I definitely wanted this experience,” Curry said of playing in an Olympics. “I think the timing is just right. I’m later in my career. This is probably the last opportunity I have to play. And that made it a much easier decision to say, ‘This makes sense.’ And then I was talking to some other guys who were interested in playing, so you knew this could be a great team.”

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