There were rumblings in the summer that Kobe Bryant wanted to be a part of Team USA for the 2016 Olympics, and the Los Angeles Lakers legend told Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press “it would mean the world” to him if he could participate:
“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.”
If Bryant did play in the Olympics, it could mark the end of his basketball playing career. All signs point to him calling it quits after his 20th NBA season with the Los Angeles Lakers, especially considering how poor he looks thus far this season. Ending his career by winning his third gold medal would be much sweeter than ending it on a terrible Lakers team.
Of course, many people would argue that Kobe doesn’t deserve a spot, and he certainly doesn’t based on his current play. Bryant going to Rio de Janeiro would take away a spot from a more deserving player, and that would be unfortunate.
On the other hand, having Bryant on the roster wouldn’t hurt Team USA’s chances of winning gold, so giving him a spot as a sort of lifetime achievement award would be a nice gesture. If Kobe is indeed willing to play like he says, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s on the team:
“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.”