Kobe Bryant will pass on Olympics

By The Sports Xchange  |  Jan. 17, 2016 at 12:54 AM
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Retiring Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is removing his name from consideration for the 2016 Olympics.

The 37-year-old Bryant said Saturday in Salt Lake City before the Lakers played the Utah Jazz that he won't contend for a spot on the U.S. team for the Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this summer. He'll bow out from international play having won Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012.

"Since my retirement announcement, I'm able to watch these (younger) guys in a different light," Bryant said. "I've come to terms with the fact that they are the future of this game. These are the guys who deserve the spots in Rio. These are the guys who people need to watch and root for. These are the guys to show fans where this game is going in the future."

When Bryant walks off the court for the final time with the Lakers, that will be the end of his basketball career. He said he expressed his decision to USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo and Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski.

"It's funny during the game in Golden State ... (Brazil native) Leandro Barbosa, who I've known for a very long time, comes up to me and goes, 'Hey, I'll see you in Rio.' I just turned around and went 'noooo.'"

Considering Bryant's injury history in recent years, he said he didn't want to take a spot on the U.S. team from a younger player. He'll retire with a 36-0 record in international play.

"I've had my moment. ... As beautiful as it would be to play for the country -- I mean, I love our country -- when I say my last game, it's going to be my last game. I'm going to retire, then that's it," Bryant said.

"It's not like I'm going to walk off the stage and then -- but I'm going to come right back for a minute, hold on for one second. You know what I mean. I think it's pretty sweet to have the final game be in a Lakers uniform and support the players from afar."

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