Bryant in action against Australia in the quarter-finals of the London 2012 Olympic Games (Photo: Getty Images/Christian Petersen)
Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant has said for the first time that he wants to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where he would be among a select group of USA players going for a third consecutive gold medal.
Bryant, who will be 38 two days after the gold medal match at Carioca Arena 1, had previously said he would not take part in the Rio Games, with speculation rife that he will retire at the end of the season, after 20 years with the LA Lakers.
“I would like to play,” Bryant told the Associated Press. “I think it’d be awesome. A beautiful experience. I feel like I can add value from a leadership perspective and a defensive perspective. I can still move extremely well defensively.”
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Bryant, the third-leading scorer in NBA history, helped the USA win basketball gold at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games. He could, along with LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, become the first US men to win three Olympic gold medals.
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The USA will announced its team for Rio next June, and Bryant said he was eager to be involved in the camaraderie of an Olympic squad again. “It would mean the world to me to be around those guys,” he said. “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 being around each other and understanding that this is it, it’s just us being together, that would be fun.”
The USA became the first team to qualify for Rio 2016 when they on last year’s FIBA World Cup. They have since been joined by Australia, Nigeria, Venezuela, Argentina, Spain, Lithuania and China on the list of qualified teams, while Brazil has its place guaranteed as host nation.
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