After playing every game during the NBA season as well as the entire championship run for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Tristan Thompson decided to suit up for his national team in a summer where a lot of Canadian NBA players decided to stay home.
Thompson, along with Cory Joseph, Joel Anthony, Brady Heslip and Anthony Bennett, was among the NBA/borderline NBA level players to play for Canada in the qualifying tournament, although their dreams of having a spot in this summer's Rio Olympics came to an end with Sunday's 83-74 loss to France.
This tournament offered a chance at redemption, following last summer's disappointing loss to Venezuela for a more loaded Canada team featuring the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Olynyk, Dwight Powell, Andrew Nicholson, Robert Sacre, Bennett and Joseph. But they were without Thompson due to his contract negotiation with the Cavaliers and fell to a Venezuela team without a single NBA player.
This extends the Olympic drought to 20 years for Canada as they will need to wait until 2020 in Tokyo to try and qualify.
Thompson had a quiet game against France and often looked tired on the court. There were his signature offensive rebounds and putbacks, but Canada's inability to find him on the roll or create penetration limited his impact on the offensive end of the floor. He finished with 8 points and 7 rebounds on 4/6 shooting. Joseph was the leading scorer for Canada with 20 points.
The most important thing from a Cavs perspective is that the NBA's active ironman stayed healthy throughout the tournament. While Thompson won't be joining Kyrie Irving in Rio, he showed up for his National team and competed when few would have faulted him for resting after the long NBA season he went through.
Thompson and Joseph have been the faces of a very young Canadian program and have been praised by Steve Nash among others for their leadership and poise. While this result is a disappointing one for those invested in this team, it's great to see that Thompson stayed healthy and that he continues to grow as a leader in his time away from the Cavs. His loyalty, work ethic and selfless attitude are huge assets to the Canadian program and a big part of why he is such an important part of the Cavaliers.