Kobe Bryant targets Olympic gold before retirement

Kobe Bryant helped the USA to Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012

Kobe Bryant would love to end his illustrious playing career with Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro next summer.

The five-time NBA champion last month announced his plans to retire at the end of the season, closing up a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Injuries have finally caught up with the 37-year-old shooting guard, but the 17-time NBA All-Star is still hoping to be fit enough to end his career with a flourish.

Given the Lakers are floundering and almost certain to miss out on the play-offs, a well-rested and fit Bryant could prove a wise selection for next summer's Olympics.

The Lakers great helped the USA to gold in 2008 and 2012 and sees the Rio Games as a fitting ending.

"We'll see," he said. "It's not something I'm absolutely pressing for but being part of the Olympics is such a beautiful experience.

"I grew up overseas, I grew up in Italy, so I was able to see how basketball became such an international sport first-hand.

"It would be a beautiful thing personally to finish my career on the international stage.

"But that being said we will see how it goes."

Bryant's father, Joe, spent a large chunk of his playing career in Italy after leaving the States and briefly played in France before retiring.

It is a career path the retiring Laker would loved to have followed, if only for a short while, but injuries mean a European jaunt is beyond him.

"I would have loved to have played overseas for a season but it's not going to happen," Bryant said.

"I wish I could have done it but I can't, my body won't let me.

"My body has been through a lot. And it's very easy to forget I haven't played because of it. My timing is off, my rhythm is off.

"It was about me continuing my training and believing my timing will come back and that's what happened."

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