LeBron James Is Wise to Step Away from International Basketball

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IJuly 25, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12:  Lebron James #6 of United States holds his gold medal after defeating Spain in the Men's Basketball gold medal game on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympics Games at North Greenwich Arena on August 12, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

While exploding past, through and over defenders on a basketball court, LeBron James seems invincible. His unreal combination of size, speed and athletic ability makes him a man among boys while surrounded by the best basketball players on the planet. 

However, not even the four-time NBA MVP is invincible. In fact, it is guaranteed he won't be able to beat Father Time. At some point, James will start to lose a step.

With his reported recent decision on his involvement with USA Basketball, that point will now be further away. 

Reporting on information from a "source close to" James, Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears said that James is not going to participate in the 2014 world championships and is "doubtful" for the 2016 Olympics. 

Here is a quote from the source: 

LeBron is going to be three years older during the next Olympics. He will have two older boys. He has a lot to endure with his family. He played in three Olympics. Everyone that knows LeBron knows it's always based on a decision at that moment. But if the moment was today, the answer would be no.

James will be 31 when the next Olympics roll around, but in basketball terms, he will be older. 

Entering the NBA straight out of high school, James has logged a ton of minutes on his body. He's played at least 37.7 minutes in each of his 10 NBA seasons.

And his workload has been massive the past three years.

He's coming off three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. That has led to James playing 67 postseason games in that span. That is nearly an extra season. And that isn't even the total of his extracurricular basketball action. 

James was a part of the gold medal-winning team at the 2012 Olympics, which were his third Olympics. 

James has been remarkably durable during his NBA career. Other than the strike-shortened season, James has played in at least 75 regular-season games in each season. His body has obviously held up magnificently to the rigors of professional basketball. 

However, as the miles accumulate and the calendar rolls by, the aches and pains James experiences are going to increase. 

We need look no further than James' 2012 Olympics teammate Kobe Bryant for an example of this. 

Bryant also entered the NBA straight out of high school and proved to be remarkably durable during his career. However, the wear and tear has taken a toll. 

Bryant has been dogged knee issues in recent seasons, and he is now recovering from an Achilles injury.

Obviously, I can't say Bryant would not have experienced these injuries had he played fewer minutes during his career, but one also doesn't have to be Dr. James Andrews to deduce that his excessive workload likely played a role in Bryant experiencing these issues when he did.

While playing in the Olympics is a unique experience and a great show of patriotism, it's not like James' departure will lead to a dearth of talent on the squad. With career longevity, James has a chance to rewrite the NBA record books and leave one of the greatest legacies in the history of professional sports. 

Being wise about managing his career as he ages will be vital to that process, and James is already showing wisdom in this area.