NBA rumors: Kobe Bryant won't play in Rio Olympics

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Bryant made the announcement in Salt Lake City before the Lakers' game against the Utah Jazz. He has informed USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo and Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski, saying it's time for others to enjoy the Olympic journey. "Since my retirement announcement, I'm able to watch these guys in a different light," said Bryant, a gold medalist in 2008 and 2012. "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."
Jody Genessy: Kobe Bryant will not pursue a spot on the 2016 Olympics team. "I think it's the young guys' turn to go. ... I've had my moment."
Jeff Zillgitt: A few tidbits from NBA commissioner Adam Silver's press conference in London: Expect a Kobe Bryant tribute at the All- Star game >>>
Sure enough, a farewell tour. He laughed. "It kind of turned into that, didn't it?" he told me on his way to the bus, having run the gauntlet of good-byes and thank-yous and can-I-get-a-pictures that must have been almost as exhausting as getting his 37-year-old body ready to play in this building one last time. "I wasn't expecting this kind of reaction, to be truly honest," he said. "But it's been pleasantly surprising to me to be able to have this experience. And to be honest with you, it feels good. It feels damn good."
Mike Trudell: Cool to see Andrei Kirilenko waiting w/his son outside LAL's locker room for Kobe. Guessing he took his kid to see Bryant play 1 last time.
Almost 20 years ago, the Los Angeles Lakers had one of the greatest offseasons in NBA history when they acquired Kobe Bryant and signed free agent Shaquille O'Neal. But former Lakers center Vlade Divac, now the Sacramento Kings' general manager, almost prevented the team from forming one of the most dynamic duos in NBA history. "My feelings were that I play basketball for fun. This is not fun," Divac recently told Yahoo Sports about the 1996 draft-day deal that sent him to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Bryant, who is expected to play his final game in Sacramento on Thursday. "If somebody asked before, 'Vlade, are you going to play basketball over there [in Charlotte]?' It's not going to happen. I talked to my wife and told her, 'Look, I'm going to retire.' It would have been so bad. I would have been the most hated guy in L.A."
Divac was in Europe and was stunned when his agent told him about the trade. Days later, Divac said he informed the Lakers he planned to retire, which would have prevented the team from trading him for Bryant. "It felt like someone from behind hit me with a hammer," Divac told Yahoo Sports. "It was the first time in my career that something happened in a way I didn't plan. I was devastated. I was thinking, 'I play basketball for fun.' My father said when I brought my first [basketball paycheck] back home, 'Who gave this to you? Are they crazy? Do they know you would play basketball even if they don't pay you?'
"I am not going to play basketball because I have to play. I am going to play for fun. I was 28. I am not going to go somewhere and be forced to play basketball. I told my agent that I am not going to Charlotte. I loved L.A. I loved the Lakers. For every kid that played basketball, it was basketball heaven being with Magic and the other guys."
Within 10 days after the draft, Divac said he returned to Los Angeles ready to retire, yet he agreed to meet with West. After an "emotional meeting" with West, Divac changed his mind and agreed to the trade. "Jerry called me and I flew back to L.A. and we had lunch," Divac said. "The trade happened [in principle], but I was holding it up. … It was a great conversation. He said, 'Why don't you go over there and explore and see if you like it or not?' Me and Jerry had a very good relationship. He was the guy who was waiting for me at the airport [after being drafted in 1989]. It was an emotional meeting for both of us. And I trust him so much. He is the best basketball mind in the world. When Jerry tells you something, you believe it."
Steve Bulpett: "Kobe, Kobe" chant lasts into start of Celtic intro video. He appeared to be moved, patting his chest and pointing to Garden crowd.
Baxter Holmes: Michael Jordan is not expected to attend Kobe Bryant's final game in Charlotte this evening, but a video message from MJ will be shown.
The NBA has been celebrating Kobe Bryant since his announcement last month that he is retiring after this season – his 20th in the league. But former NBA player Stephon Marbury says China’s basketball fans would far exceed the adulation Bryant is receiving in the NBA if he were to wrap up his career in the Chinese Basketball Association. "They love him here. It is a little bit past love. It would be like the biggest thing ever in basketball here,” Marbury told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “It would be beyond huge. Beyond big. I would definitely encourage it. They love basketball here. You can't control the excitement."
With games only on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and no back-to-backs, Marbury believes Bryant could be effective playing in China and would enjoy the overall experience. But it is different. “I try to tell people that it's not easy playing here because you are always on the court playing,” Marbury told Yahoo Sports. “You still got to put the ball in the hole. You still got to [succeed]. Guys say, 'Oh, it's not competition.' It's not the competition in the NBA, but it's still competition. You still have a defense trying to stop you, and they're really trying to stop you because they know you are one of the best players. It's basically how it is at home [for stars].”
Rookie guard D'Angelo Russell said he wants to snag some memorabilia at some point. "It's a long season," Russell said. "I'll try to get something every game." Julius Randle wants autographs, too. "Oh, yeah, [Kobe is] going to have to sign a couple things for me," the second-year forward said. "He can't go out that easy."
"It's always like that with Kobe. It's honestly not new," World Peace said. "It was like that every year all the time -- [chants of] 'Ko-be, Ko-be!' Now this is his last year, so obviously it's a little more electric, but it's always been like that." Even then, World Peace did admit that this time is different. "I did get an autograph, so it must be special," he said, referencing Bryant's farewell note to Lakers fans that World Peace not only had signed but framed, too.
James Harden had long known what he wanted in life. Before the shoe deals and stardom, before the first stubble on his chin, he had watched Kobe Bryant in his prime, young and gifted, hungry for greatness and a place in NBA history. That was, Harden decided, what he wanted. "Kobe was my guy," Harden said. "I was a Laker fan. And I was a Kobe fan. Always."
"He's my guy," Harden said. "We talk. He's a pretty cool guy. Obviously, on the court, he's a beast. He does whatever it takes to win games. He's a winner. He's passionate about it. But obviously off the court, he's so savvy. He's business-minded. "When we were in the playoffs last year, he sent me texts, giving me that encouragement to just leave it on the court. That right there was probably the best perk of all just because he's a guy you watched growing up and now he's sending you text messages. That's what life's about."
Calvin Watkins: Rockets guard and Los Angeles native, James Harden said hell cherish playing Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Saturday night. The Lakers meet the Rockets in the first of four meetings at the Toyota Center. Just somebody Ive been watching growing up since I was little, Harden said. This is his 20th year, Im just 26-years old, so hes been playing a long time. Obviously you definitely want to win the game but that competitive nature going against him, no matter how old he is, he still has that competitive nature. He still wants to go out there and compete at a high level so I will definitely cherish it and take advantage of it.
Calvin Watkins: Don't expect the Rockets to give out a special introduction or video tribute to Kobe Bryant on Saturday. It's just a game where the Rockets are trying to reach .500 for the first time this season.
"I definitely think Kobe Bryant deserves to be an All-Star," says Raja Bell, NBA Analyst for CBS Sports. "He's earned the right to be celebrated in one of the NBA's biggest stages. Clearly, whoever doesn't get in because Kobe does will be upset with it but I definitely think Kobe earned the right to play in the All-Star Game this year." Once hailed as a "Kobe Stopper," Bell knows a thing or two about Bryant. The two had some very heated battles, especially in the playoffs when Bell played for the Phoenix Suns in the mid-2000s. But they did develop a mutual respect for each other. Bryant even tried to recruit Bell to join the Lakers in 2010 but the veteran defender opted to sign with the Utah Jazz instead.
Brian Shaw recalled a conversation he had with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar about life after basketball. Shaw remembers the former Lakers great saying how his body underwent changes immediately after he retired. "He said all of a sudden you just stop that regimen you had for all those years and that his body went into shock," Shaw said. "I started to feel like that. Kobe's regimen is even more crazy than anyone that I've ever been around. So it's going to be interesting to see."
In less than 24 hours, Kobe Bryant will start feeling something unpleasant that does not involve his health. When the Lakers (3-16) play the Detroit Pistons (11-9) on Sunday at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Bryant will feel frustration regarding the Lakers losing to the Pistons in five games of the 2004 NBA Finals. “It still eats at me. Absolutely does,” Bryant said. “I’m upset that I gave Richard Hamilton something to brag about. Up until that point, he never beat me. That just kills me.”
The conversation seemed appropriate for a private moment in the coach’s office. Or maybe when the two talk on the phone. Instead, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant informed coach Byron Scott he would retire at the end of the 2015-16 season in an unusual setting. It happened at the beginning of the third quarter when the Lakers played last Saturday in Portland. “I was shocked,” Scott said before Friday’s 100-87 loss to the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. “I was more like, ‘What? I didn’t think I heard you correctly.’”
“I can’t sit here and say I was 110-percent focused on everything,” Scott said. “Every now and then, I’d lose my train of thought because I was thinking about what he just told me. It was probably the weirdest game I ever coached.”
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant told coach Byron Scott last weekend that he would be announcing his retirement after 20 seasons in the NBA. According to Scott, Bryant also told him, "You're the first to know." What has remained secret until now is how the 37-year-old Bryant delivered the news to Scott: during a game. In an interview with ESPN on Friday, Scott revealed the details of that exchange, which he said occurred at the start of the third quarter of the Lakers' 108-96 loss to the Trail Blazers on Saturday. "I said, 'KB, I played you 20 minutes in the first half. I'm going to cut those minutes down. I've got to cut them down,'" Scott said after his team's morning shootaround ahead of their game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. "He said, 'That's good, coach. That's all right. I'm going to announce my retirement after the game.'"
Scott said he was stunned. "I said, 'What?!'" Scott recalled. "That was the shock part. I was in that state for the rest of the game. Even when I was watching him play [and] I was watching him running up and down, I'm going, 'Did he just tell me [that]?'" Scott said he had no idea Bryant was going to give him that news, much less at that time. "I told him the next day, 'You know you shocked the s--- out of me when you told me that,'" Scott said. "He just started laughing. I said, 'You really did.' He said, 'I know. I could see it on your face.'"
Kevin Ding: Kobe has requested not to have any on-court ceremonies or gift presentations from opposing NBA teams. He does not want to detract from game. So NBA teams wanting to honor Kobe when Lakers visit will be limited to video tributes or private moments. Kobe prefers business as usual.
Colangelo on Kobe’s retirement announcement and what memories it sparked … “Well, the fact that that’s the player, quite honestly, who we wanted to draft when he was eligible for the draft and we had him in Phoenix for a workout before the draft (comes to mind). The Lakers made a deal with Charlotte, and were able to get him before we could get to him. And of course, we ended up with Steve Nash — which wasn’t bad (laughs). This was in the middle of the draft (Bryant was No. 13; Nash No. 15). These were not early picks.
“And then I think about this young guy, and just how mature he was as a player as a 17-, 18-year old kid. And then to see his career early on, where he was — he was dominant so early, it was amazing. I like to tell the story about – fast forward, Kobe goes for 81 (points against Toronto on Jan. 23, 2006), and that’s at the time when I was meeting with players one-on-one (to discuss Team USA), eyeball to eyeball. The Lakers come to Phoenix right after his 81-point game, and he comes up to my office and we talk for a while and then I thought I’d jerk his chain a little bit. I said, ‘Now Kobe, I just want you to know that — assuming you do all the things you say you’re prepared to do — we may ask you not to be a scorer and just to be a distributor’ (laughs). And he said, ‘I’ll do anything I need to do to make the team.’ Which I thought I was great — especially coming off of an 81-point game.
Kobe Bryant suddenly has a good problem to have. It’s far less serious than the Lakers’ persistent losing, or Bryant’s endless shooting inaccuracy. Does Bryant have a preference on the Lakers retiring his No. 8 or No. 24 jersey? “Not really,” Bryant laughed.
Although Bryant did not sound too concerned about his choice, he admitted feeling more comfortable with his role as No. 24 despite winning three of his five NBA titles wearing No. 8. “The first phase of my career was much harder. I had to learn something I naturally wasn’t,” said Bryant, who switched numbers before the 2006-07 season. “It took a lot of studying and figuring out how to organize a team.”
As for the timing of Bryant's announcement, which triggered a full house and a playoff atmosphere in the losingest building in the NBA, Hill wasn't falling for any notion of coincidence. "It's the end of his career," Hill said. "Where's his loyalty at the end of his career? Philadelphia. Why did he announce within the framework of when he'd be coming to Philadelphia that he's going to retire? You don't think that was planned?"
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