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Bryant sees Olympics role as 'closer'

July 7, 2012 at 5:57 PM
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LAS VEGAS, July 7 (UPI) -- Kobe Bryant says he'll likely play the role of "closer" at the Summer Olympics in London, similar to his role in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

With the Summer Games approaching, Team USA will be without several players because of injuries, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose won't play because of knee injuries. Dwight Howard is skipping the games because of a back injury, while Chris Bosh is out with an abdomen injury and LaMarcus Aldridge has an injured hip.

Lamar Odom isn't playing in the Olympics because he wants to focus on preparing for a season with his new team, the Clippers.

In February, when the Lakers were playing in Toronto, a reporter asked Bryant about his role in the coming Olympics.

"I'm just the closer," Bryant said at the time. "They just bring me in the last two minutes if they need me. LeBron [James], Wade, all those guys, they can do all the heavy lifting."

After Team USA's first practice Friday during a weeklong training camp, Bryant said of other players: "Let them do all the work. I'll go out there and do what I can for this team to be successful. Down the stretch if the ball comes to me, knock them down. Just do what I did in Beijing. Same thing."

In Beijing, Bryant averaged 15 points, third highest on the team.

In the gold-medal game, he scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to help the United States beat Spain 118-107 and finished the game with 20 points.

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