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You’ve accomplished so many things in your career. Is there one thing you feel like you still need to accomplish to complete your career? Pau Gasol: If I could win a gold medal at the Olympics, I could retire right after that [laughs]. But I just want to keep doing what I’ve been doing. After 15 years in the NBA, to keep playing at this level, I think it’s pretty remarkable. I take a lot of pride in that.
National Team coach Sergio Hernandez is optimistic about the chances of Ginobili playing at the Olympic Games for the fourth time with Argentina, though. “To me, he’s going to play in Rio,” Hernandez said in an interview with TyC Sports. “I know he’s going to get angry when he watches this, but he knows how I am.”
Do you still plan on playing in next summer’s Olympics? Yeah. We (Argentina) qualified this summer so we’re going to have a chance to play there (Rio). I’m very happy about that. Will it be your last go-around in the Olympics? Four years is a lot of years. I will be 36 (April 30th) at the beginning of the Olympics so that puts me at 40 for the next ones. That’s a lot of guessing. I’m just taking it year-by-year now.
Colangelo on Bryant’s interest … “When I was approached originally about Kobe’s interest in potentially playing in the Olympics — this goes back early last summer, I guess, or spring — and the concept being that it would be great to end a career, win a gold medal and ride off into the sunset. That was just thrown my way by his agent, Rob Pelinka. I just took it in and I said, ‘Rob, I don’t rule anyone out, but it has got to be based on performance because there’s so many people who want (to be on the team) — everyone wants to be on the roster.’ So he says, ‘Well, absolutely, and that’s how Kobe feels. He wants to earn it.’ Well then a month later, the two of us were in New York at an NBA function, and Kobe and I had a chance to visit, and we talked about the same thing. He reiterated his interest, but also the fact that he didn’t want any gifts, that he wanted to — if he wasn’t capable of earning it, by his performance, then that was that.
“So just recently, with his announcement of retirement, some people have come back to me (on the topic). Nothing has changed for me. Again, the same criteria exists, which is (a player’s performance) this season. So we’ll just look at this season. And I know where he has struggled, and it’s not the same…but there are some people having really outstanding years.”
Colangelo on sacrificing a spot for Bryant based largely on the sentimental component and the fact that a) the 12th man won’t play much and b) Team USA will be heavily favored to win gold regardless of who fills that spot … “Let’s just put it this way: on one hand, you have what you just proposed. On the other hand, if someone is left off the team, like Kawhi Leonard or Paul George — and I’m just using names — for that purpose, then you have to weigh that fairness, to some degree. That’s all. So it’s not an easy call, and it’s one that I don’t have to make for quite some time. And I’m going to stick to that. I’ve got plenty of time. With out further ado ...
As covered recently in this space, Bryant says he doesn’t have any plans to satiate his fans abroad by playing a season in Italy or China when he’s done with the NBA. But playing in the Olympics could serve as that farewell to the international basketball public, which Bryant addressed in a Friday morning visit on ESPN Radio with Mike and Mike, saying: “Obviously I grew up overseas and have seen basketball grow globally. It’s come so far, so fast. (I) would love nothing more to be in an international environment and be around so many other great athletes one more time. That being said, it’s not something I’m obsessing over, either, because I’ve got to listen to my body, too. If my body can’t do it, there’s no sense in doing it. So God willing, hopefully, if they feel I can make a significant contribution and my body is up for it ... if that’s the case then I would love to play.”
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.
‘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.
Mark Woods: Parker, Batum thanking French fans and saying they’ll be ready for the Olympics. TP: “my story with the French national team is not over”
Storyline: Olympic Games
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