LeBron James was almost left off the 2008 USA men’s Olympics basketball team due to his immaturity issues, as Adrian Wojnarowski reported.
Perhaps one of the greatest collections of basketball talent ever assembled, the 2008 Beijing Olympics called for players that were handpicked to represent the USA and comprised of the NBA’s top tier talent at the time.
Players such as Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade, amongst others were chosen to be a part of the 2008 men’s basketball Olympics squad.
A household name and MVP candidate at the time, LeBron James surprisingly was almost excluded from the roster as a whole. Though he did eventually make the cut, he did so with many USA basketball higher ups not being too receptive to his presence on the team.
LeBron James wasn’t very well liked during the 2008 Olympic trials
The problem with LeBron James when it came to him being selected for the 2008 roster, was his maturity; or lack thereof. Head Coach Mike Kryzewski wanted then 3x champion Kobe Bryant to lead the team and believed LeBron James’s presence on the roster wouldn’t affect their chances to bag the Gold medal.
For context, LeBron James wasn’t very well liked during his stint on the 2004 Athens Olympics nor the 2006 World Championships. After all, James was merely a teenager and around 21 years old during those two events, respectively.
The division between LeBron and the USA roster was so apparent that the now 4x champion’s group of friends were labelled ‘the Enablers’. This is because they ‘enabled’ James to be as bossy and egotistic as he pleased. The straw that nearly broke the camel’s back was when LeBron and his manager, Maverick Carter, behaved quite irrationally during the 2007 All-Star weekend.
LeBron altered his behaviour to join team USA
Following his antics in the 2007 All-Star weekend, the NBA agreed that they wouldn’t bother with forcing James to join Team USA for the Beijing Olympics.
Nike caught wind of this and relayed a crucial message to LeBron and his camp: You change, or we’re serious about leaving you home. A league official even said, “Legacies were on the line and they weren’t going to let LeBron f—k it up for everyone in China.”
LeBron eventually decided that he would become more tolerable towards his coaches as to be a part of the roster. He was however, given Jason Kidd as a babysitter to make sure he stayed in line. It all worked out in the end as USA would defeat Spain 118-107 and capture the Gold medal.