Miami Heat: Time For LeBron James To Pass the Mantle

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5 Players Ready To Take LeBron James' Torch

LeBron James
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

According to reports, LeBron James’ tenure as a team USA Basketball star likely ended in the summer of 2012 at center court of the North Greenwich Arena.

"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," the source told Yahoo! Sports. "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."

And for the sake of the Miami Heat I hope his answer remains no; baring he stays with the Heat.

Not to sound selfish or anything, but James has done more than his time when it comes to representing our country. He started off wasting away on the pine during the disaster known as the 2004 Olympics, graduated to redemption in 2008 and doubled down in 2012.

If you count qualifying games and World Championships, that’s five summers of extra basketball that he can—now—do without.

Like Kevin Durant said during last week's minicamp practice "those guys are getting older" and "their time is precious." So while James is in his prime his main focus should be adding more titles to his resume and making sure that he isn’t worn out from summer scrimmages and playing overseas.

Which should mean no more championship cramping or NBA Finals fatigue.

But don’t worry; USA Basketball is in great hands. Check out the next five slides to see who’s ready to carry the King’s mantle.

Please comment using the section below, or reach out to us using the hash tag #RML, for Rant My Life or #RantNBA.

Richard Nurse is a Miami Heat columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @blackirishpr.

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The Heir Apparent

Kevin Durant
Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the Olympic hopefuls' scrimmage, USA Basketball executive director Jerry Colangelo suggested that Kevin Durant is "kind of the face of USA Basketball going forward."

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The Possible Record Holder

Carmelo Anthony
Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Carmelo Anthony has yet to rule out a possible return to USA Basketball. But if he does return he can move pass fellow three-time Olympians David Robinson and LeBron James to become the first four-time U.S. Men’s basketball player to compete in the Olympic Games.

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The Dark Horse

Paul George
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

If Paul George can continue to build on his 2012-13 season, he could become the future of the team at small forward.

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The Floor General

Chris Paul
Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

"If it had been another coach than Coach K, I was prepared to be done," Chris Paul told ESPN.com.

Thanks to coach Mike Krzyzewski, Paul has done a 180 when it comes to participating in the 2016 Games in Brazil.

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The True Future

Kyrie Irving
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

After watching Kyrie Irving turn it on and take over last Thursday’s United States scrimmage, there was little doubt in anyone’s mind who future gold medals will rely on.

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