If Kobe Bryant would have his way, he would like to give the Olympics one more go.
The former National Basketball Association MVP on Monday expressed his desire to be a part of the team USA Basketball will be fielding in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, in a competition that could be his swan song to a career should he decide to hang his jersey at the end of the 2015-16 NBA season.
Bryant, a 17-time All Star, played a pivotal role in Team USA’s gold-clinching appearances in the 2008 Games in Beijing and 2012 edition in London.
”It would mean the world to me to be around those guys,” the Los Angeles Lakers superstar told The Associated Press in an interview. ”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.”
Already in his 20th season with the Lakers, questions have abounded whether this year will be his last with the team and in the league. The 37-year-old
Bryant has dropped hints about hanging his jersey, although he has stopped short of confirming his retirement.
In August, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo revealed that he had spoken with Bryant – who previously said he would not be participating in Rio – about the possibility of being a part of the team.
The 12-man Olympic team will be announced in June 2016.
Should he be picked for the Summer Games in Brazil, Bryant — along with other veterans like LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony – will have the opportunity in becoming the first Team USA players to win an Olympic basketball gold thrice.
”I would like to play,” quipped Bryant. ”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.”
A five-time NBA champion, Bryant is the third-leading scorer in league history. He’s been averaging 16.5 points per game so far in the season.