TOKYO, Japan, Jun 23 – Three-time NBA champion Steph Curry looks to have his sights on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics — and a gold medal that would complete his career set.
The Golden State Warriors sharp-shooter, who has captured world titles with Team USA, pulled out of the 2016 Rio Olympic squad with injury but appears set to join a Dream Team at next year’s Games that could also boast the likes of LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard.
“I know the energy here is going to be amazing,” Curry told reporters in Tokyo.
“I haven’t played in the Olympics before. I’ve played in two World Cup teams so I’ve had the experience of representing my country. But the Olympics, from everybody that I’ve talked to that’s played, there’s no comparison to that experience.”
The United States have won gold at the last three Olympics and will be favourite again in Tokyo.
Curry was the Japanese capital for a basketball clinic and was asked about Rui Hachimura, who made history Thursday when he became the first player from Japan to be taken in the first round of the NBA draft, selected with the ninth overall pick by the Washington Wizards.
“It’s exciting for the NBA to have representation from Japan and countries all over the world,” said Curry, twice voted the NBA’s most valuable player, but coming off a stinging Finals defeat by the Toronto Raptors.
“It speaks to how the game of basketball is growing everywhere. For him to be a trailblazer in terms of doing something that has never been done is good for this country.”
The 6-foot-9 (2.06-metre) Hachimura averaged a team-leading 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds last season as a college junior for the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
He will become just the third from Japan to play in the NBA, joining Yuta Tabuse (Phoenix Suns) and Yuta Watanabe (Memphis Grizzlies).
But Curry tipped Hachimura — born to a Japanese mother and father from Benin — to be a success.
“He’s got good size obviously,” said Curry. “He seems to have a high basketball IQ, good touch. I’m sure as he gets into the NBA, his game will expand.
“He fits into the direction the NBA is going right now — being able to score and put pressure on the defence no matter what the situation is.”