On Monday, Kobe Bryant admitted for the first time that he still wants to play for USA basketball at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Which means someone in control of the team needs to tell him something he probably hasn't heard in a long time.
As most basketball fans know, Kobe's best qualities have always been his killer instinct, determination, and relentless attitude. But as we are all aware, father time is still undefeated. And right now, father time has Kobe in a reverse choke hold and isn't letting go.
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"It would mean the world to me to be around those guys," Bryant told 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."
While that would be a great story, the problem is that Kobe wants USA Basketball more than USA Basketball wants him.
Coming off a torn Achilles tendon and a torn rotator cuff which have limited his playing time in the past two seasons, and heading north of the typical retirement age for basketball players, there is no way that Kobe will be able to help this team on the court instead of players like Klay Thompson and James Harden, especially with how he has played to start the current NBA season.
Whether you are a Kobe lover or hater, you can’t help but root for a guy who has overcome such a debilitating injury so late in his career to at least try and make a comeback. Most normal people on the planet would barely be walking a few years later, let alone play a hugely competitive sport where sheer athleticism is a requirement.
I also don’t believe that it’s our say to tell professional athletes when to quit playing. Similar to Brett Favre or Michael Jordan in the last years of their career, if a team is willing to not only give money but also playing time to these athletes in the twilight of their career, then that’s their prerogative.
But, having said that, a slow, hobbled Kobe is just painful to watch, and it’s about time that he recognizes that he can no longer play at a high enough level to compete on the world stage.
If team USA is truly interested in winning gold above all else, it would be in their best interests to do what the Lakers should at the end of the season: Tell Kobe thanks, but no thanks.
Should Kobe Bryant be picked for Team USA next summer? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below