SPORTS

NBA star declines offer for Olympics

TORONTO (Reuters) – A grueling NBA season, a wedding and security concerns have convinced Toronto Raptors all-star Vince Carter to decline an opportunity to play for the US team at the Summer Olympics. A gold-medal winner at the 2000 Sydney Games, Carter confirmed that he would not seek a place on this year’s squad following the Raptors 85-81 win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. «Maybe in ’08. But I’m not going to play this summer. I’m going to take it easy, let my body heal and focus on that. It’s tough because it’s a wonderful experience but I have my duties here,» Carter said, adding he was also getting married this summer. «Going through a season like this I need as much rest as possible. It is tough and I have a lot of things going on this summer. There are a lot of things involved, security issues… I just felt it was in my best interest not to go.» Nine of the 12 roster spots on the 2004 edition of what has become known as the «Dream Team» have already been filled by players who qualified at a selection tournament last summer. They are Ray Allen, Mike Bibby, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, Karl Malone, Tracy McGrady and Jermaine O’Neal. However, Bryant, slowed by injury and facing a sexual assault trial did not play in the Olympic qualifier. With Bryant’s situation in doubt, Carter was thought to have a lock on one of the three remaining berths. According to a report by ESPN.com, a US sports website, on Tuesday, Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Garnett had been extended formal invitations to join the team. O’Neal, who helped the US to gold at the 1996 Summer Games, said earlier that he was not interested in playing in Athens while Garnett has yet to confirm his interest. ESPN.com also confirmed that USA Basketball selection committee chairman Stu Jackson said Cleveland Cavaliers high school rookie sensation LeBron James was among a small group of players being considered for a spot.