Kobe Bryant to support players, watch Rio Games 'from afar'

ByBaxter Holmes ESPN logo
Sunday, January 17, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY -- Kobe Bryant revealed Saturday that he has no interest in playing in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.

Bryant, who plans to retire this summer after his 20th NBA season, discussed the Olympics before the Los Angeles Lakers faced the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

"I think as beautiful as it would be to play for our country, when I say my last game is going to be my last game, I'm going to retire, then that's it," Bryant said. "It's not like I'm going to walk off the stage and then [say], 'But I'm going to come right back for a minute. Hold on one second.' You know what I mean? I think it's pretty sweet to have the final game be in a Laker uniform and support the players from afar."

Bryant's final game would be April 13 against the Jazz at Staples Center.

Speaking of other young players who are competing for spots on Team USA, Bryant stated, "I think it's their time. I think it's their time."

Bryant recounted a moment in the Lakers' game Thursday against Golden State when veteran Warriors guardLeandro Barbosa of Brazil approached him and said,"Hey, I'll see you in Rio."

"And I just turned around and went, 'Nah,'" Bryant said. "He said, 'C'mon, man. It's Rio!' I said, 'Nah, man. I think it's the young guys' turn to go play and perform.'

"I've been fortunate enough to win two gold medals, so I've had my moment," he said, referring to the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. "I think it's important for them to go ahead and play. I'll watch from afar, support from afar. If they want me to come down and speak to the guys, I will, but that's about it."