In a wide-ranging press conference with reporters prior to the Los Angeles Lakers game on Monday against the Chicago Bulls, Kobe Bryant stated that he will not participate in the 2016 Olympics in Rio with Team USA, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Kobe says he won’t play in the 2016 Olympics, but he might attend as a spectator to “see Pau win another silver medal”
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 21, 2014
The 35-year-old’s admission that he won’t play in the next Olympics does not come as much of a surprise as he is still working his way back from a fractured lateral tibial plateau fracture in his left knee that he suffered last month after just six games removed from returning a torn left Achilles tendon.
As expected Bryant’s focus remains on getting back on the court with his teammates as soon as he is medically cleared, so that he can help the Lakers turnaround this difficult season and at the same time help get himself back to playing a high level of basketball. Another factor that may have contributed to the 15-time All-Star’s decision could be that fact that he will be 38 years old and in 20th season in the NBA in 2016.
So with that said, the Olympics should be the furthest thing from his mind as he is trying to get his body right to return to live-game action. Bryant recently stated that he has pushed back the re-evaluation of his left knee to February. There is also no guaranteed that he will be back once he is examined, as the doctors could suggest that Bryant postpone his return for a longer period of time.
Bryant played in a major role in the 2008 Olympics as he helped the “Redeem Team” reclaim a gold medal and also played in a significant role in 2012 as Team USA defeated Spain for the second consecutive time to earn another gold medal.
With Bryant stating that he will not play in the Olympics that puts him alongside Miami Heat forward LeBron James, who stated last June that his time with Team USA is likely over.
But to counter that, there is still plenty of time as the Olympics is still another two years away and things can change.
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