Lakers guard Kobe Bryant wants to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and told USA Basketball that he wants to earn a roster spot.
Bryant was not one of the 30-plus players invited to a minicamp this week in Las Vegas. Colangelo said that Bryant told him that he doesn’t want to be given a spot on the team, but that he wants to earn it.
“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,” Colangelo said.The U.S. is seeking a third straight gold medal in Brazil.
Bryant will turn 37 on Aug. 23 and is entering the final season of a two-year, $48.5 million contract. He is set to earn $25 million in 2015–16. He says that his body feels good after playing only 41 games in the past two seasons because of knee and shoulder injuries and hasn’t decided if he will retire from the NBA after this season.
A 17-time All-Star and 11-time All-NBA first team selection, Bryant averaged 22.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 41 games last season, while shooting 37% from the field, a career low.
A 12-man roster for the Olympics is expected to be set after the 2016 NBA draft, Colangelo said.
Bryant has won two gold medals, helping the USA to victories at the 2008 Games in Beijing and the 2012 Olympics in London.
"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.”
- Scooby Axson