Bryant remains in contention for a spot on Team USA's 12-man roster for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told ESPN's Marc Stein. Colangelo said Bryant's announcement "doesn't have any bearing" on the star guard's status for the Rio Games. "We have this whole season to look at all of our players," Colangelo said Sunday. Even before he publicly confirmed this season will be his last, Bryant said earlier this month that playing in Rio, which would give him an opportunity to win a third gold medal after triumphs in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012, has great appeal to him. "It would mean the world to me to be around those guys," Bryant told the Associated Press earlier this month.
It's no surprise that Bryant is coming around to the idea of playing in the Olympics. He insists on being a Laker or retiring, so assuming it ends after this season, Bryant will not have even played an NBA playoff game for the final four years of his career. The possibility of going out a winner with the U.S. team in Rio instead of a loser with the rebuilding Lakers is too much to resist—and Colangelo and all the world can feel the pull of that allure.
Heat forward and former U.S. Olympic teammate Chris Bosh joked that Bryant just wanted “a free trip to Brazil.” But Bosh then gushed about Bryant’s work ethic on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, shortly after the Lakers’ NBA Finals loss to Boston. “I don’t know if it was motivation or just how he normally is. But he was beating everybody to the gym and working on off-days,” Bosh said. “He could have every excuse to come in and rest. But there’s a reason why he’s one of the greatest of all time.”
That explains why Scott sounded strongly supportive about Bryant reiterating his interest in playing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Assuming Bryant makes the team, that would mark the third time he played for the U.S. men’s Olympic team after winning gold medals in Bejing (2008) and in London (2012). “I don’t know if that’s an indication on what he plans on doing for next year. But that’s cool to me,” Scott said. “I can’t think about 2016 and the Olympics. I have to think about tonight.”
Bryant said Monday that he still wants to be part of the team that USA Basketball will send to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, a tournament that theoretically could mark the end of his competitive basketball career if he retires at the conclusion of this NBA season. Bryant helped the U.S. win gold at the 2008 Beijing Games and 2012 London Games. "It would mean the world to me to be around those guys," Bryant said in an interview with The Associated Press. "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."
"I would like to play," Bryant said. "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."
Tony Parker: "Two or three years ago I said that the Olympic Games in Rio would be my last competition with the national team, the last time I would play with France. I hope we will qualify and have a great tournament. It has been 15 great years with the national team."
Oladipo’s first choice, of course, is to be selected to play for USA Basketball – the heavy favorites to win a third straight gold medal – in the Summer Olympics. However, if Oladipo is bypassed by USA Basketball, he could opt to play for Nigeria because of his parents’ heritage with the African country.
Oladipo is very proud of his Nigerian heritage and he said that his mother is very aware that her son could play for her native country. Nigeria, the 2015 Africas champion, still must qualify for the Olympics next summer. ``My mom obviously knows because she pays attention to stuff like that, but she’s never mentioned anything to me about it,’’ Oladipo said with a chuckle. ``I just go out there and play basketball. Whatever decision comes, I’ll make that decision when I need to.’’
KR: It was probably tough for you to sit out for Spain this summer. I’m assuming you’ll be suiting up next summer for the Olympics? Ricky Rubio: Yeah, I mean if I’m healthy I will. I was watching the European championships through TV and it was so tough to watch it on TV but it was fun to see them win.
Brian Mahoney: Former NBA lottery pick Yi Jianlian the MVP as China wins FIBA Asia championship, becomes 9th team in Rio hoops field. 3 more spots in July.
‘They’re like Argentina in that their golden generation’s window is closing,” international basketball expert and ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla told me. “This team rode the back of a 35-year-old player who in Pau Gasol still has great heart and very good ability. But this is not the same team that challenged the USA for a period of three or four years. I don’t think they will go into 2016 – even though Marc Gasol and Ricky Rubio will be back and potentially Serge Ibaka – as the same threat they were for a period of about four years. But they are the most likely team to knock off the USA in Brazil.”
Tony Parker: "If (Joakim Noah) wants to return (to the French National Team), it would be a pleasure. He's a good player and the good players, we take them! It's also true that now the team is competitive. We have good players in his position. Rudy Gobert and Joffrey Lauvergne did an incredible job at the European Championship."
Boban Marjanovic missed Eurobasket due to a foot injury. The Spurs did not give permission to the Serbian giant to play for his National Team this summer. But Marjanovic hopes to play for his country next summer in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament and in Rio if Serbia makes it.
Marc Gasol: If I'm in a position to help the National Team, I will be at the Olympic Games in Rio. I would have played the pre-Olympic tournament if I had to, I guarantee you that.
Belinelli was one of the leaders of the Italian National Team at Eurobasket. Italy qualified to one of the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments. And the guard already said he will play for the Italian next July. “We were a great team at Eurobasket. We did not play well the first game against Turkey but then we reacted” Belinelli said to Il Resto del Carlino. “We all play the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Olympic Games are special and we want to bring Italy back to Olympics” added Belinelli.
Turkish Basketball Federation will apply to host one of the three Olympiac Qualifying Tournaments that will be played in July 2016. Turkey did not get a spot for the OQT and its only chance to play is to organize one of the tournaments that will qualify the last three teams at Rio. FIBA is expected to announce the hosts late in November.
Serbia may apply to host one of the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments next July. Serbia ended Eurobasket in fourth position and booked a ticket for the preolympics. But the Serbian Basketball Federation, with the help of the government, may be one of the countries candidates to host the tournaments that will qualify the last three teams at the Olympic Games in Rio.
Pau Gasol, who was voted MVP of Eurobasket 2015, said he will be at Olympic Games in Rio next summer. “I will play at the Olympic Gmaes trying to win a medal” Gasol said.
September 17, 2021 | 5:16 pm EDT Update
The Denver Nuggets have signed forward Petr Cornelie to a two-way contract, President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today.
The word in Spanish basketball circles, as reiterated to me Friday, is that Marc Gasol is most likely to play for Girona if he decides to play on, even though the LEB Oro is one level below Spain’s top tier. I’m told he has been working out with new Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio to stay sharp even after negotiating his release earlier this week from Memphis following the Grizzlies’ recent trade with the Lakers to take on the final year of Gasol’s last NBA contract.
Ballots for the NBA’s 75th anniversary team were due back to the league office today. The league previously announced that the official list of its 75 greatest players, as selected by “a blue-ribbon panel of media, current and former players, coaches, general managers and team executives,” will be revealed in October. The voters will also be revealed — not their full individual ballots but the names of those who made the selections.
September 17, 2021 | 3:51 pm EDT Update
After securing the arrival of Mario Hezonja, Russian team UNICS Kazan will announce soon the signing of former NBA guard OJ Mayo.
UNICS Kazan is adding one more marquee name to its roster with O.J.Mayo having a one-year deal with the Russian club. While there’s no signed contract yet, that seems to be more a formality delayed by bureaucratic reasons.
Chris Grenham: Former Hawks guard Brandon Goodwin tells me he worked out with Celtics this week. There is no training camp agreement between Boston and Goodwin yet, but there is interest from both sides. Goodwin played in 47 games with Atlanta last year, averaging 4.9 points and 2.0 assists.