LOS ANGELES – Clippers' point guard Chris Paul announced that he will withdraw his name from Team USA consideration for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil this summer.
In 2012, at the London Olympics Paul could be found everywhere throughout the Olympic Village and the surrounding events. Whether it was catching a track meet, cheering on Michael Phelps, or watching a beach volleyball match, Paul wanted to soak in all the Olympics had to offer.
"What we do is such a small thing compared to what the people do to protect our freedom," Paul told Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins on Monday. "But when I put on that USA jersey it always gave me goose bumps because you realized you were part of something so much bigger than yourself."
Paul has played for Team USA on the global stage for more than a decade, but on Monday he told SI.com that his body was telling him it's time to shut it down. "I feel my body telling me that I could use the time," he said.
Paul has had to put a lot of miles on his 31-year-old body this season in the absence of fellow superstar Blake Griffin. Griffin has missed 42 games this season and will miss at least three more as he serves a four-game suspension before returning to the court against the Washington Wizards on April, 3rd.
For the second straight season, Paul has had to step up his role on the court and be more of a scorer in Griffin's absence. Last year, Griffin missed more than two months with a staph infection in his right elbow.
The Clippers clinched a playoff spot last week and will soon secure their position as the fourth seed in the Western Conference. Los Angeles is hoping to make a deep run in the playoffs this year, meaning Paul could be playing until late-May or early June. That would leave CP3 with little to no rest before joining Team USA and heading to Brazil.
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Recently, ESPN Stats and Information called Paul "the most important offensive player in the NBA" over the past three months, and there's no arguing that point as the Clippers have gone 28-14 without Griffin.
USA Basketball has plenty of elite level NBA guards ready to fill the shoes of Paul, but, it may be his son, Chris Paul Jr. who will be the most disappointed with his father's decision.
"Just a few days ago, Little Chris asked me, 'Daddy, will you play in the Olympics again?" Paul said. "Part of me wanted to say yes, because he's never been part of it. But I told him, 'I'll want to spend more time with you."
Paul led the Clippers to a 114-90 blowout victory over the Boston Celtics on Monday at Staples Center, but reminisced about his two Olympic gold medals he won in 2008 and 2012, respectively. "Tonight we'll play the Celtics, and the fans in Boston will cheer hard against us," he continued. "The fans in L.A. will cheer hard against them. The thing I'll always remember about Team USA is that everyone cheers for you."