Devin Booker is about to play in the most important game of his basketball life on Tuesday night, and Phoenix Suns fans are just hoping he’s 100% locked in heading into the NBA Finals. That might not be the case for the two-time All-Star, though, as his impending obligation of playing for Team USA in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is also quickly approaching.
Will Booker be able to set aside his passion for his country to lead the Suns to an NBA title?
Devin Booker is extremely passionate about playing in the Olympics
Many of the top American basketball players in the world have declined invitations to play for Team USA in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. LeBron James, Chris Paul, James Harden, and more won’t be on the roster when the Olympics tip off later this month, but some stars are still dedicated to representing the red, white, and blue on the court.
Booker will be one of the bigger names repping his home country later this month, and he never even had second thoughts about competing. Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball’s men’s national team managing director, said last month that Booker is one of the more passionate players on the roster this year.
“Booker called me maybe a month ago to express his great desire to be a part of the Olympics, and I knew that just because of the relationship,” Colangelo said in a June 28 videoconference with reporters. “I didn’t have to say a word. He said, ‘If we get to the Finals and we go all the way, I’ll be on the plane the next day and I’ll be there. It doesn’t matter.’”
With the Suns now in the Finals a few weeks later, Booker faces that exact dilemma.
Booker’s Olympics obligation should worry Suns fans
Suns fans are understandably ecstatic about reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in 28 years, but they shouldn’t be satisfied quite yet. Phoenix is a sizeable favorite to take down the Milwaukee Bucks and win its first NBA title in franchise history, especially with Giannis Antetokounmpo’s uncertain health heading into the series.
But for the Suns to make history this month, they’ll need their alpha scorer to be completely locked in.
That’s why the NBA Finals schedule and the Olympic Games schedule should worry the Phoenix faithful. Booker has clearly been waiting for the opportunity to represent his country for his entire life. He just missed the cut the last time around in 2016, so this year will be his first appearance for Team USA at the Olympics.
If the NBA Finals go seven games, Booker will play his last game with the Suns on June 22. The Olympics start just three days later, all the way across the world.
The Suns need Booker at his best in the NBA Finals
Besides Chris Paul, Booker has to be the most important player for the Suns heading into the NBA Finals. The star shooting guard can bail Phoenix out of bad possessions, create his own shot with ease, and is a threat to drop 40 on any given night. If the Suns want to win their first-ever NBA championship, they’ll need Booker to discard every possible distraction this month.
That includes the Olympics, which have been on Booker’s mind for years. It’s a life-changing experience for a player to represent his country on the world’s biggest stage, but Booker needs to completely forget about his impending obligation and put his full focus on the Suns.
If he can, it’ll pay off with an NBA title — and a few weeks later — maybe a gold medal.