If he decides to draw the curtain on what has been a successful career at the end of the 2015-2016 season, Kobe Bryant wants to end it on a high by winning a gold medal for the 2016 USA basketball team.
While speaking to Associated Press’s Tim Reynolds, Bryant revealed that he is eager to represent USA at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. There have been rumors in recent weeks that the Los Angeles Lakers could announce his retirement by the end of the current NBA season, and after helping his national team win gold at the 2008 Beijing Games and 2012 London games, Bryant is keen on winning his third gold medal.
In a detailed interview with The Associated Press, Bryant said that it would mean a lot to him to play with his national teammates.
“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 believes that he can add a lot of value to the team and still feels that he is on top of his game.
“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.”
“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.”
However, it remains to be seen if USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo would seriously consider Bryant as a part of his plans in Brazil. And although Bryant has privately told Colangelo about his interest in playing for the team in the 2016 Olympics, the LA Lakers star will have to get himself in the program, since he has not been seen practicing in any of Team USA’s mandatory attendance minicamps.
However, Colangelo has already stated that Bryant is entitled to an opportunity to play for a team that is currently boasting several great young players like Klay Thompson in contention for a spot on the Olympic roster.
Indeed, Colangelo is aware of what Kobe Bryant can bring to the team, which is why he is not ruling out the possibility of giving Bryant one last chance to play for the national team before he leaves the game.
“There’s a guy who’s made great contributions to the game, again, one of the great players of all time,” Colangelo said of Bryant. “He helped us win the gold medal in Beijing. Trust me, he really did. And so he’s entitled to an opportunity.
Now that he is entering his 20th season with the Lakers, it is understandable that Bryant wants to win a gold medal before he retires, as it would be a great way to end an illustrious career.
Moreover, Colangelo could possibly grant Kobe his wish. He did the same thing for the 2008 Olympic team, when Jason Kidd was added to the roster to serve as a veteran leader.