Kobe Bryant is hoping to hoist his second Olympic Gold Medal by the end of this summer to add to his 5 NBA Championship rings as well. David Stern recently commented that the Olympic team could become a 23 and under team. Kobe called the idea “stupid” and is clearly soaking all of the Olympic atmosphere in for the last time.
“This is it for me. I’m fortunate enough to play in two Olympiads now. I’m looking forward to it man, this is fun. People ask me all the time, why are you doing it? You’re going into your 17th year in the league.” Kobe said. “There is nothing like playing for your country. There’s just nothing like it. The history that comes behind playing for your country, and everything that we stand for, and everything that we’ve been through as a nation. It’s much much bigger than basketball, or swimming, or track and field.; it’s much bigger than ourselves. When you get older, and you start kind of looking back on some of the things that you’ve done, and the opportunities you have ahead of yourself. I mean this is fun. “
Kobe also enjoys the fact that he has played through two generations of Olympic athletes, and is still at a competitive level where he can contribute to the success of the team.
“It’s also exciting, because I get to play through two generations. The first time in Beijing, you know, LeBron and D-Wade were kind of the young guys and Melo. And now, LeBron is going into his 10th season, and so I’ve seen him grow up. And now it’s Kevin Durant, and Westbrook and James Harden, and that crew. The D-Rose’s of the world, the Blake Griffins. So for me it’s fun to still be running with these young guys, being one of the top dogs after 17 years, I mean it’s pretty cool.”
Kobe is definitely starting to feel his age, and said recently that it is possible he will retire after two more seasons.“I’ll be 34 in August, so it’s really just being smart about how I train. I mean I have this summer, and then next season is going to be a full 82 game season. So, there’s no point to overexert my self here with this team. Especially, when you have these young guys, who it’s their time to really step up, and perform, and take that center stage. And me, I just want to make sure I’m ready to go for the Lakers, and do what I have to do here to represent USA the right way.”
Kobe Bryant is clearly treating these exhibition games as just that, exhibitions, and not quite the real deal. Through 3 exhibition games, Bryant is averaging 5.7 point, 3.0 rebounds, and 19.7 minutes; he is shooting 30.0% from the field and taking it easy on his body so that he is ready to roll by the Olympics. He also has Steve Nash to look forward to in training camp, and I’m sure wants to be completely healthy during Los Angeles Lakers’ training camp so that he and Nash can build the chemistry necessary to go after Kobe’s 6th ring. For anybody keeping score at home, that would tie him with Michael Jordan.