Anything seems possible now.
Jamal Murray took to Twitter on Tuesday to announce his intention to help Canada qualify for the Olympics next summer in Tokyo.
Playing for my country is always an honour and I want to take the step and leadership role to commit to @canadabasketball this summer. I want to play my part to help push our team into the Olympics and compete at the highest world stage. Let’s go Canada🇨🇦🇨🇦
— Jamal Murray (@BeMore27) November 26, 2019
This is massive news for Canada Basketball, which had egg on its face when just two Canadian NBA players suited up at World Cup last summer, following the release of a star-studded training camp roster. Murray currently leads the Denver Nuggets in scoring, averaging 18.9 points per game.
Sportsnet’s Michael Grange reports that Murray has indeed confirmed his intention to play for Canada at the Olympic qualifying tournament set to take place on home soil in Victoria this June. Canada needs to win that outright in order to claim one of the six remaining spots in the 12-team Olympic men’s basketball tournament in Tokyo.
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Getting the 22-year-old star point guard to commit publicly is a big boost for the program, not only for what he can bring to the court but also for how this could influence the decisions of other Canadian NBA stars.
If Canada Basketball gets buy in from most of its available NBA talent, our country could field what would be easily the most talented Team Canada ever assembled. Not only could they qualify for Tokyo, but Canada could also contend for an Olympic medal.
While Andrew Wiggins might still be a long shot to wear the Maple Leaf, RJ Barrett seems like a likely candidate given his father is Canada Basketball’s general manager. Canada also boasts 16 players that have suited up for at least one NBA game this season, including:
- Jamal Murray (Denver)
- Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota)
- RJ Barrett (New York)
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City)
- Tristan Thompson (Cleveland)
- Dillon Brooks (Memphis)
- Brandon Clarke (Memphis)
- Kelly Olynyk (Miami)
- Dwight Powell (Dallas)
- Nickeil Alexander-Walker (New Orleans)
- Chris Boucher (Toronto)
- Cory Joseph (Sacramento)
- Trey Lyles (San Antonio)
- Naz Mitrou-Long (Indiana)
- Khem Birch (Orlando)
- Mfiondu Kabengele (LA Clippers)
- Oshae Brissett (Toronto)
Seven Canadians (Wiggins, Gilgeous-Alexander, Murray, Barrett, Thompson, Brooks, and Clarke) are averaging more than 12 points per game this season. Many of Canada’s best players are under the age of 23, meaning they’re likely to get even better. Thompson, who is only 28, is Canada’s oldest player, while Barrett is just 19.
Canada has not qualified for the Olympics in men’s basketball since 2000 and has not earned an Olympic medal since winning silver at the inaugural tournament in 1936.