Luis Scola has signed for Varese in Italy at age 40. The Argentine is still considering playing at next year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which would be his fifth Games
Will we see Luis Scola at his last Olympics? Argentina’s basketball superstar, who was part of the Golden Generation that won the gold medal at Athens 2004, turned 40 on 30 April. When the postponement of the Games was announced, the ex-Houston Rockets star questioned whether he would be able to participate in Tokyo at age 41.
"I wanted to become the first [Argentinian] basketball player in history to play at five Olympic Games. But that now has become much more distant. I will have to evaluate it,” he said.
Scola has now signed a contract with Legabasket’s Varese, a club that plays in the Italian national league but not any of the European competitions. The choice may point to the 2.06m centre preserving his form with Tokyo 2020 in mind.
It is also likely that Argentina would like to see the only active member of the Golden Generation help them secure gold in Tokyo next year.
Following 10 years in the NBA (Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets) and further spells in People's Republic of China and Italy, Scola still managed to be the top scorer in the final of last year’s Pan American Games, with 28 points against Puerto Rico.
Showing a similarly rich vein of form, Scola averaged 17.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game during the FIBA World Cup in People's Republic of China, before scoring 28 points in the semi-final against France to book Argentina’s spot in the final. The Argentine team went on to lose the final to Spain, however by that time they had already secured their Tokyo 2020 qualification.
Participating in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would be a huge achievement for Scola. Not only would it be his fifth Games in a row, it would also be a chance to add to his already impressive haul of trophies that includes an Olympic gold medal (2004), Olympic bronze medal (2008), two World Championship silver medals (2002, 2019), a Pan American Games medal (2019) and two FIBA Americas Championships (2001, 2011).
To fully understand the impact Scola has had on basketball, one only needs to look at his 41 World Cup appearances - the most of all time - or the 716 points he has scored in the competition, which ranks just behind the Brazilian legend Oscar Schmidt on 843.
Scola remains an extremely valuable player for his national team, and although he doesn’t openly admit, he continues to have the support of his newly-retired teammate – the one and only Manu Ginobili.
"He deserves to end playing with a jersey that gave him so much joy and to which he gave so much joy,” declared the former San Antonio Spurs player when asked whether Scola could play at the next Games.
Scola himself remains cautious when talking about the Olympic Games, particularly in light of the current COVID-19 situation.
"No-one could have imagined how much the coronavirus could alter the world and the sport in general,” he said.
“I don’t want to play anywhere if there are no Olympic Games after."
And that was before he signed for Varese.