Devin Booker should represent the Phoenix Suns for Team USA in the 2020 Olympics

Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker garnered much criticism for not joining Team USA in the FIBA World Cup. Next year he should definitely play for the US national team in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Team USA lost to Serbia in a consolation game in the FIBA World Cup, arguably the worst loss in American international basketball history.

Team USA closed out the FIBA World Cup with dismal 7th place finish, and Americans everywhere now ask themselves the question: how can we blame all this on Phoenix Suns guard, Devin Booker?

Booker was 9,000 miles away from the Dongguan, China arena when Bogdan Bodanovic led Team Serbia to victory, but that’s precisely why he drew criticism from the likes of Bill Simmons.

The Ringer chief hasn’t been alone. ESPN’s Nick Friedell took shots at Booker on “The Jump”, and the Twitterverse has been quick to throw barbs at the Suns star after the double team during a pickup game controversy painted a selfish image of him this offseason.

Booker is obviously a tremendous talent, but hoisting him up as the would-be basketball savior of the nation puts him on an undeserving pedestal and places undue responsibility on this shoulders.

There are valid arguments that Book should have dawned the stars and stripes for the FIBA World Cup, but the team’s embarrassing premature departure is a good hindsight argument that Devin made the right decision by sitting this one out.

Having now obliged all requisite disclaimers, Devin Booker should definitely suit up for Team USA in next summer’s 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

All the big name stars snubbed Team USA this summer, so depending on who decides to regain their athletic patriotism a year from now, Booker may not make the roster, even if he wants a spot.

After all, Booker hasn’t yet even made an All Star team for the Western Conference so you can’t assume he is a lock for Team USA.

The likelihood is, though, LeBron James will preserve his aging body by not playing in these volunteer games. Plus, he’s been there, done that.

Booker’s shoe-in status will depend on how many other top-tier players follow James’ lead and how many seek FIBA redemption.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume it is his choice to play or not.

The fact that so many stars passed on the FIBA World Cup like a was the birthday party of the family’s tolerable uncle is the very reason it will look good if Booker plays in the Olympics next year.

Booker is a big star.

Or at least, as a max-contract 22-year-old, he sees himself as one.

By skipping the World Cup this year, he can justify this distinction by claiming many other big names did the same, and by playing in the Olympics, he can justify this distinction by claiming many other big names did the same (assuming they do).

The second point of consideration – and this point is ironclad – is no one cares about the FIBA World Cup. Not in America or Canada, anyway.

The 1992 Dream Team established the Olympics as the gold standard in international basketball competition. All other world tournaments have always been seen as lesser in the minds of US basketball fans.

Strangely enough, the opposite is true in


fútbol, as the FIFA World Cup outranks the Olympics in notoriety by the length of a thousand pitches.

When it comes to basketball, however, Olympic gold metals shine sexier than all other global trophies combined.

I should point out, however, other countries don’t share this myopic viewpoint. NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo played for this native Greece this summer with little hesitation and newly-minted Phoenix Suns point guard, Ricky Rubio, has been playing for the Spanish national team since he dribbled out of the womb.

But with all cameras and American basketball pride focused on the Olympics next year, Booker could use that opportunity to elevate his status as the NBA’s next superstar.

Finally, Booker should play in 2020 for the same reason pundits argued he should have played in the World Cup: he needs meaningful game experience.

At his sole season at Kentucky, Booker came off the bench for a loaded Wildcat team that was a missed shot clock violation call away from going undefeated.

In his four-year pro career, however, his Phoenix Suns are a combined 87-241, which equates to a measly 26.5% win percentage.

If the Suns are going to make the jump to contender in the coming years, and if Devin Booker plans to lead that effort, it would seriously help for him to play in (and win) competitive games that actually count for something.

The Olympics of today aren’t the Olympics of 1992 when Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and company waltzed through international competition. The rest of the world has significantly improved their basketball acumen and talent since then, and if this World Cup is any indication, the US is no longer a lock to win it all every time.

A motivated, enthusiastic, and clutch performance amidst a winning culture can only serve Booker well in the regular seasons yet to come.

To close this out, Booker is cool. Therefore, intrinsically, what he does also becomes cool. The coolness factor of playing for Team USA has ebbed and flowed over the years, and it’s due to peak once again.

dark. Next. Phoenix Suns newcomers clashed in Fiba Wrold Cup

(This is, of course, unlike short shorts, which are desperately and inexplicably attempting to make a comeback. Those should stay buried in the 80’s where they belong.)

By playing in the Olympics, Booker can help make playing for Team USA cool once again.

So, come on, Devin. Do it for America. Do it for yourself. And if nothing else, do it for the sushi. I hear Tokyo has the best in the world.