LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Gold medallist Kobe Bryant #10 of the United States looks on from the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's Basketball on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympics Games at North Greenwich Arena on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo : Harry How/Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant is expected to retire by the end of the current NBA season, ending his 20-year career that he spent solely with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant was of course one of the elite stars to be selected to play for USA Basketball in the past, and word about another (and possibly final) stint was up in the air.
Despite the fact that USA Basketball made it clear that all interested parties who wanted to vie for a slot needed to be at the Las Vegas Mini Camp held last August, it seems that there could be exceptions as far as the final selection is concerned.
Take note that injured stars like Kevin Love, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were around to show their interest. LeBron James had prior commitments, but nevertheless flew in. With regards to Bryant, he never showed up.
However, Bryant did hint that getting a chance to play once again for Team USA that will take part in the 2016 Rio Olympics would be neat, something that could be the icing on his illustrious career.
"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," says Bryant via the Associated Press.
While USA Basketball director Jerry Colangelo is open to the idea, there will be prerequisites in making this happen. That would largely depend on how Bryant will perform this season, as he said in an interview with USA Today.
Thus far, it hasn’t been an impressive one, and it is apparently one of the reasons Bryant decided to announce his retirement via the Player’s Tribune.
Add as well the fact that Bryant had requested not be given special treatment as he plays out the remaining games of his career, his possible inclusion would have to be done the hard way, meaning he still has something in mind before completely hanging up his sneakers.
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.
— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) December 4, 2015
So if Bryant suddenly reverts to his old form and shows shades (at the least) of his old explosive self, he may get that chance to don the USA Basketball colors for the last time.
Then again, such would take away an opportunity from the committed and younger players who have been showing up. How (and if) that would affect the USA Basketball program as a whole remains to be seen.