Kobe Bryant sounds like someone who wants to play beyond this season if only for a few months. 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."
Bryant is in his 20th season with the Lakers, and questions have been rampant for some time whether this NBA year will be his last. Bryant has suggested that he's leaning in that direction, though has stopped short of making a true retirement announcement.
Bryant will turn 38 two days after the gold-medal game in Rio. He has been on five different USA Basketball national teams, with those teams combining to go 36-0 in international competition. If he is picked for Rio, he and other veterans like LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony would have a chance at becoming the first U.S. men to win Olympic basketball gold three times.