For many years, Great Britain has waited for Ben Gordon to finally make his debut with the national team. Unlike his former Chicago teammate Luol Deng, Gordon sat out the 2011 EuroBasket due to insurance concerns in relation to the lockout.
Entering an offseason free of drama, Gordon has been adamant about following through on his commitment to represent Great Britain in this summer’s Olympics, expressing excitement toward playing alongside Deng.
“I have been involved for a few years but I have had to wait to be able to make the trip over,” Gordon told the Manchester Evening News last month. “This summer was all about working to make sure I could be there.
“It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Olympics is the biggest stage and it is great to be involved.”
As Great Britain's training camp opened last Thursday, players, including Deng and former Arizona State center Eric Boateng, filed into the gym in Houston. While Deng won’t be fully healthy during Great Britain’s Olympic run due to a torn ligament in his left wrist, positive spirits have permeated throughout the squad, due in part to their progress in last summer’s EuroBasket. But Deng and the rest of the team know the upgrade Gordon will provide if he decides to participate, and the fact that he’s yet to show up has to be alarming.
Despite his past obstacles set to the side, Gordon has been excused from Great Britain’s camp for the time being, citing a shoulder injury, a source with knowledge of the situation told RealGM on Sunday.
Gordon missed time with the Pistons in late January and early February due to the injury.
Privately, some Team GB players have questioned whether Gordon would indeed participate when team preparations rolled around. As the case has been over the past few years, the Olympic decision rests on Gordon’s shoulders. In many ways, performing well in the upcoming Games would serve as a return to the national platform, a stage to showcase the dead-on shooting, the uncanny talent, the welcoming exuberance, he brought to a team before toiling in Detroit. However, Gordon has seemed to send mixed signals to Great Britain team officials at times, and it is unclear when – if ever – he will appear at camp, the source said.
In the eyes of most observers, Gordon’s offensive repertoire has regressed. For years, the 6-foot-3 guard dazzled with his long-range touch and rare floater shot, but his tenture with the Pistons has been a disappointment. His statistics have fallen across the board, his role has flip-flopped more than ever, and that smooth, quick-release jumper is taking just a tad longer for him to put up.
So, shouldn’t Gordon welcome this Olympic opportunity with open arms, as a chance on the big stage to re-insert himself as a premiere scorer who has simply been dealt a tough hand with the Pistons? He could very well be nursing a serious injury, and he has made it clear over the past couple months that he intends to play for Great Britain.
Nevertheless, some would find it easy to believe that his track record in these instances doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt, and regarding the timeframe when Gordon could join the team, the source maintained: “He’ll probably be a no-show [again].”
Throughout most of his professional career, Gordon has embraced responsibilities. He is a terrific teammate, by all accounts, and has handled himself well in the spotlight. Yet, for the past few years, Gordon has stared a responsibility right in the face and has come up short. The 29-year-old knows this Olympic experience is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a chance to return to the spotlight, but uncertainty surrounds his commitment once again.