Kobe would participate in 2016 Olympics


VIDEO: Will this be Kobe Bryant’s final year in the league?

Back in January 2014, Kobe Bryant said he had no interest in participating in the 2016 Olympics, teasing that he might head to Rio de Janeiro as a spectator to see then-teammate “Pau [Gasol] win another silver medal.”

Fast-forward 22 months, though, and Bryant’s tune has changed. Reflecting perhaps a newfound sense of basketball mortality, the Los Angeles Lakers star told the Associated Press in Miami Monday that he very much would welcome a roster spot on Team USA. It would, in theory, give Bryant a chance to end his playing career on a high note that, after five NBA championships and two previous Olympic gold medals, he isn’t likely to get with the Lakers anymore.

The idea of Bryant adding Rio to his Olympic tours in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012 was revived over the summer in a conversation he had with Jerry Colangelo, the chairman of USA Basketball. Bryant, so limited the past couple seasons by injuries, was given a pass from Team USA’s Las Vegas mini-camp in August.

Still, Colangelo indicated he would keep a spot warm for Bryant and told reporters: “He also mentioned to me in a private conversation that if he had his druthers, he would love to ride off into the sunset playing one more time and winning the gold medal. And that would be the end. But he was very quick to say, ‘But I don’t want a spot. I need to earn the spot. I need to be capable of playing at that level to be considered.’ And I said, ‘You got that. That’s always there for you, Kobe.’ ”

The idea of Kobe getting not just a gold watch on his way out the door but a gold medal with a heavily favored Team USA generated strong opinions, pro and con, in August. But seeing and listening to Bryant in the early days of a 2015-16 NBA season that might wind up being his last may have softened some of the critics. Based on his comments about joining the league’s other stars for a final go-around, it sounds like this all has softened him as well:

”It would mean the world to me to be around those guys,” Bryant said in an interview with The Associated Press. ”I think to be able to have a chance to continue the relationship that I already have with most of those guys, talking and just kind of being around each other and understanding that this is it, it’s just us being together, that would be fun.”

Bryant is in his 20th season with the Lakers, and questions have been rampant for some time whether this NBA year will be his last. Bryant has suggested that he’s leaning in that direction, though has stopped short of making a true retirement announcement.

The 12 players on the list for Rio is expected to be revealed in June.

”How I feel now is that I feel like I can add value from a leadership perspective and a defensive perspective,” Bryant said. ”I can still move extremely well defensively.”

Bryant will turn 38 two days after the gold-medal game in Rio. He has been on five different USA Basketball national teams, with those teams combining to go 36-0 in international competition. If he is picked for Rio, he and other veterans like LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony would have a chance at becoming the first U.S. men to win Olympic basketball gold three times.

”I would like to play,” Bryant said. ”I think it’d be awesome. A beautiful experience. I’m a global kid. I grew up in Italy, I know a lot of athletes from different parts of the world, from different sports. It’d be great to play in that environment.”

37 Comments

  1. Anthony says:

    I would agree with anybody who balks at BRYANT playing on the Olympic team if DREAM TEAM hadn’t had quite a few ppl make the team on legacy.LARRY BIRD,EWING,MULLIN,LAETTNER. SHOULD NOT TOM CHAMBERS, DOMINIQUE WILKINS,RODMAN OR LARRY JOHNSON BEEN ON THERE BEFORE BIRD AND MULLIN HOW BOUT OLAJUWON OR SHAQUILLE O’NEAL INSTEAD OF EWING,LAETTNER AND WE ALL KNOW STOCKTON OVER ISAIAH,KEVIN JOHNSON WAS A JOKE. BEING THAT KOBE WON’T BE THE FOCAL POINT AND BE WITH BETTER TALENT WILL RAISE HIS GAME AND HE WILL SKILL WISE BE FINE

  2. Arnold walker says:

    If Kobe can’t regular season then he should retire because people pays money to see him play and that’s it

  3. from denver colorado says:

    Karma

  4. NBAFan says:

    One word comes to mind when reading this… SELFISH!!
    There’s almost countless other elite level guards fighting to get their first spot on team USA (part of their basketball dream) and he wants to deny a young aspiring player this opportunity..

    Really hope they hold true and make him earn his spot, not just hand it to him based on legacy.

  5. Ace says:

    Is everyone forgetting that we’re talking about one of the top 10 players of ALL TIME here..I understand that the last two seasons have been plagued by injuries, but he is deserving a spot on Team USA’s roster. Yeah of course he’s not as explosive and quick anymore as some of the younger guards in the game (Westbrook, Wall, Lillard) but this is Kobe Bryant for god’s sakes..I think it would be perfect to see him walk out into the sunset with one more gold medal. An NBA Championship is out of the question at this point (technically it still is possible for him but not possible considering his loyalty to the Lakers). Seeing Kobe and Bron one more time, the dynamic and respected athletes they are, winning one more gold together would be an amazing sight.

    #GoldForTheVino #MambaMentality

  6. Kobe says:

    I thought you said the last Olympics was your last. But now that there’s a new coach for USA (Greg Popovich), I like to see how he will use Kobe in the lineup. I don’t see him starting but I don’t see him being put on the bench. He will be those type of player who will start one day and be bench another day.

  7. Claudia says:

    Kobe does not care about others, he just wants personal records. He should listen to himself as he knows he is like the 200th best player in the NBA right now.

    James
    Curry
    Durant
    Davis
    Drummond

    Paul
    Westbrook
    Harden
    Griffin
    Duncan

    Iguodala
    Leonard

  8. Kobe is the most self-absorbed basketball player I have ever seen. It is always only about Kobe…for Kobe. His inflated salary keeps the Lakers from affording to rejuvenate and his awful game keeps them from winning. The other day he even said that watching him keep shooting and missing is a good lesson for his younger teammates. Basketball IQ?

  9. Darren says:

    Haters gotta hate.
    All of your ex/current favorite players will one day reach the state where Kobe is in now.
    Guess you’re gonna bitch about those players as well eh? When their time comes.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I think it would be okay, because most of the olympic games are blowouts anyways. Why not give the fans all around the world one last glimpse of a true legend?

  11. Darren says:

    I would agree only if they were able to make the roster 13 instead of 12, as great a career that Kobe had who of those 12 players that is clearly better than Kobe now gets kicked to the curb. I actually think they should make a rule that you can only compete on 2 olympic teams, Lebron,Paul don’t really need to be on the team, they won gold, even without them no team can beat our USA team.

  12. paulomagnani says:

    As a brazilian and a basketball fan, I´ll be in Rio for the Olimpics next year, I´m gonna watch a basketball game, and 100% YES, I would love to see Kobe Bryant, even if he only plays 5 minutes. By far, Kobe has always been the most friendly american atlete with the international media, he´s been a true diplomat for the NBA, for the basketball and for the US. He is a legend, a future Hall of Famer, and the US has won important and difficult international games only because of him. If he comes to Rio next year, he will give great interviews to everyone, the planet will love more the game of basketball because of him, Please, you all, don´t be ungreatful, you all should honor this man – to be a good basketball player involves not only making baskets, but also promoting the game, and no one in the NBA would do it better than Kobe. Give him a spot!

  13. Robert says:

    Kobe expresses confidence in his defensive mobility, but as a Laker he continues to jack it up, shooting at a higher clip than everyone else. Kobe should have the mind set of working with and developing the talent around him, instead he stubbornly insist that he still has it while shooting 5-26, 7-27 etc. Kobe is going to be one of those sad cases whereby he is going to have to be “put out” of the game. Everything has an end, and his has come, in fact his came several years ago.

  14. Nah says:

    Kobe won’t earn a spot, but, it would be no surprise if he was given it anyway.

  15. DM says:

    No doubt if Bryant wants to play they’ll let him even though there are enough better options available. Unfortunately like everything else that he’s involved in it will made out to be all about him. He just loves his spotlight.

  16. Marty says:

    This is ridiculous. U don’t lead and defend with your current team. I see know value in gifting a roster spot.

  17. Spurs Fan says:

    As a lifelong Spurs fan, I’ve gone through four phases with Kobe:

    1. 1997 “Wow, this kid’s impressive.”
    2. 2002 “I HATE Kobe Bryant.”
    3. 2008 “I begrudgingly recognize his skills.”
    4. 2010 “Man, he’s one of the greatest of all time.”

    Ten years ago, I would’ve said NO WAY should he get such a swan song. But now, he absolutely deserves to go out on top, in some way. Let him play on that Olympic team. I’d be a proud American to see Kobe Bryant get the gold one last time.

  18. Rico says:

    Hope they turn him down, if he’s on the team, they obviously would have snubbed somebody for that to happen. not cool, don’t care who you are. This is an unforgiving sport, look at d rose and B roy, There might be a player like that that deserves a spot this year and never gets another legit chance because of an unforeseen future…………Kobe has had enough deserved accolades, time for him to step aside.

    If he can prove he’s still one of the top 15 players in the league, tun I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

  19. Marty says:

    You have to be a top player to be on the Olympic team. Not a legacy appointment.

  20. purpngold says:

    Well like Kobe said, he would have to earn his spot, and if he does then obviously it is the right choice. Kobe knows how to play only one way and that is go hard. He is struggling early in the season and many are already counting him out. This is exactly what he needs. A little motivation to shut all critics up, again, like he has done through out his whole career.

  21. Gracefully says:

    Kobe should announce his retirement already. Sad to see old broken down players not know when to call it quits. As far as 2016 Olympics, does he really want to warm the end of the bench?

  22. Jorge says:

    While Kobe is likely much better player right now than any of the people commenting on this thread will ever be or have ever been, I am sure there is no question that it would be easy to find 12 American basketball players who are currently playing at a much higher level than Bryant is currently playing at. It does not have to do with wether he can put the stats this season either. The Lakers are in rebuild mode and so his stats are going to be inflated by the mere fact he has such a high usage and he will be the first option. He deserves a big honoring send-off, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of a deserving player.

  23. Lovins says:

    I’m cool with it only if we comes off the bench and plays limited minutes. Because I can totally see him jacking up 10 3s a game (the shorter distance 3) and shooting like 20% the way he is now. We all know Kobe always wants to be the alpha dog but that would be a recipe for disaster playing against team-oriented styles of international teams. There are too many younger, better guards in the NBA now that we need to utilize over Kobe.

  24. Letnotbeahaternorbandwagon says:

    reading these makes me sick
    lets not forget what he’s done for the NBA and USA basketball, some people outside USA might not be watching basketball if its not because of him
    giving him a spot will sure admire what he had done for basketball
    #lastgoldforblackmamba

  25. Ryan says:

    2014- Kobe not interesting in playing at all
    2015 -Kobe would play if he earned a spot
    Now- Kobe is desperate to play because he spent the past two years ignoring everybody and not realizing this Laker team would be terrible and now he realizes he’s terrible and he would like a free spot on the team because “he knows international athletes”. I’ve never seen a more desperate play from a legend

  26. Ryan says:

    Despite my general dislike of Kobe as a Celtics fan, I have really held off of the Kobe bashing this year. It’s too easy of a target and it’s just plain sad. No matter my personal preference, this dude is top 10 and all time and his greatness can’t be disputed. But this? This is too much. So he’s realizing that he’s going to go out playing terrible basketball on a terrible team (a full two years later than the rest of world) and now he’s essentially pleading to be on the team. This is like the outisder kid in high school trying to go to the cool party by saying “but I can get beer!”. It’s Kobe’s fault, well technically his ego, that he’s in the this position and now he’s completely changed his tune and is selfishly taking a spot from a deserving player. What happened to “no” or “I want to earn it”. Now it’s “I know international people!”. What’s even worse is that he’s putting this in the hands of Coach K and Colangelo, which isn’t fair to them. This isn’t a Kobe hater hating, this is just pointing out that a legend is acting, as the kids would say, thirsty.

  27. Menard Reyes says:

    As a true Olympian why not give a final day to participate him in Team USA 2016 and let KOBE to get his great grandstanding exit.

  28. DrPhill says:

    He shouldnt be taking someones spot who actually deserves it so he can get carried to a gold medal. What a selfish person!!!!

    • Hater says:

      Kobe’s haters always FEAR Kobe. and they should be. Didn’t you read (or do you know how?) that Kobe said he doesn’t want a spot? He said he wants to earn it. So tell me, when you wrote your comment, were you fear that Kobe will be great this season and steal your golden spot?

  29. DrPhill says:

    Lol!

  30. I think it’s a good idea as long as he plays really good this season. Why not? But if he doesn’t put up significant stats this season, that would not be fair to the player who should of been chosen. Like say, Russell Westbrook.

  31. Ugh.. says:

    I cant wait not to see you anymore! Pathetic..

  32. Daniel says:

    Don’t forget, USA basketball team in the 2008 Olympics games probably couldn’t win a silver medal if Kobe wasn’t there for us. Even in 2010 they got him drug tested at age 30 like he is not Kobe!
    It’ll be the most epic last season, if Kobe play for team USA and they manage to win the gold medal.

    • ko0kiE says:

      haha, how desperate is he?😛

      sorry kobe, but right now, there are better guards out there in the NBA. it is already tough to leave out some of the talent they have, they should not gift kobe a spot..

      if MJ, Magic or Shaq would want to play in 2016 Olympics would you give them a spot? they had their time.. let others shine in their prime.

  33. johnnytc1 says:

    Kobe, it comes down to if “the king” says its alright.

  34. Hope he doesn’t, he’s not nearly good enough anymore.