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Kobe Bryant makes right decision in choosing to play in 2012 Olympics

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It shouldn't be surprising that Kobe Bryant's "locked in," as he calls it, to playing in the 2012 London Olympics. But even some of his most ardent supporters are concerned that any extra basketball mileage will make him vulnerable to more injuries and fatigue.

Heck, part of the backdrop to the Lakers' 124-105 victory Tuesday over the Memphis Grizzlies involves the fact that he's one minute away from surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's franchise record for career minutes (37,492), meaning he'll break the record Wednesday night at Sacramento the moment he steps onto the court. Fast forward to August 2012, and this is where Bryant will stand: He will be 34 and, if all goes according to plan, will have seven championship rings. Whether everything these next two seasons plays out in Bryant's favor, it's not a stretch to say the Lakers will make deep playoff runs, only adding more mileage and wear and tear to Bryant's body.

"If anything, I'll just be Mariano Rivera -- come in in the last two minutes," Bryant said, referring to the New York Yankees closer.

But if his 2008 Olympic run indicated anything, Bryant's not going to simply accept and play a utility role. He was a key starter on that roster, finished third on the team in scoring with 15 points on 23.5 minutes per game and even set a good example for Coach Mike Krzyzewski in embracing team defense. It's hard to tell how Bryant's game will have changed by that point, but he made the right decision to pursue another Olympic gold medal. 

"You get a chance to see and meet the greatest athletes in the world," Bryant said. "Aside from just the basketball part of it and being with a great group of guys, it's an opportunity to meet some of the best at what they do. It's great for me. I get a chance to talk to them and meet them and go to their events and watch new sports. It's just a blast."

That's the diplomat in Bryant. The real reasons include that it adds another talking point in the compare-Bryant-to-Michael Jordan conversation, plus winning a gold medal is the ultimate prize -- even more than an NBA championship. And you may recall that the idea behind LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joining forces together originated when the three played in Beijing.

I felt very differently about the 2010 FIBA World Championships, agreeing with Bryant's decision to sit out so he could have surgery done on his right knee and rest up after playing in three consecutive NBA Finals and the 2008 Olympics. Interestingly enough, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said before the Memphis game that Bryant playing in such a tournament was a "deterrent in his career" because "it's about maintaining your wheels out there as you play."

But this is different. It's the Olympics. Just remember Bryant's reaction when told that Lamar Odom had joked that he could brag about his FIBA gold medal to Bryant because he didn't have one.

"Like I couldn't get it if I wanted it," Bryant said at the beginning of training camp. "Not to mention three more rings, but who's counting. Oh and another Olympic gold medal too. But who's counting."

But for those whose main concern is the Lakers, just recall that similar questions arose about Bryant playing in the 2008 Olympics. Some said he should rest and have surgery on his right pinky finger so he'd be ready for the 2008-09 season. That didn't keep the Lakers from winning the title. If anything, it helped in the long run because Bryant relished the bond he'd made with teammates, and others around the league developed a deeper appreciation for Bryant's relentless work ethic. 

That will be on display again in 2012, an experience that will serve both Bryant and all of his fans well. 

-- Mark Medina

twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: From left to right, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony join together after defeating Spain and winning the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (34)

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will the "decision" join soon??????????

D-O-M-I-N-AT-I-O-N !!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You can have your nail-biting, stomach-churning, nerve-wrecking close competitive games but I’ll take a dominating Lakers blow-out any day because that’s the sure signal that the Lakers brought their A-game. When the Lakers run the Triangle Offense as well as they have so far this season, it seems as if they are toying with their opponents, much like killer whales or orcas who play with their seal prey like it’s a game. The Lakers already appear to be in mid-season form in what is going to be a season for the ages.
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I love the way the Lakers are running the Triangle Offense right now, with the ball and players constantly moving and very few isolation post ups and pick-and-rolls. I hope Kobe remains patient and trusting and stays within the offense because this team is much more potent and difficult to defend when there is solid offensive balance with Pau, Lamar, and the Killer B’s all playing well. There will be teams and times when we will still need Kobe to close out games and he will undoubtedly continue to lead the team in scoring but make no mistake, Kobe is too smart not to realize he finally has a championship supporting cast.
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It is especially encouraging to watch how Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom are playing right now. Pau Gasol has accepted Phil’s challenge and is playing as great offensive basketball right now as he has ever played. And Lamar Odom continues to display the maturity that I had hoped would come from his marriage. If he continues to play at this level, the Lakers are going to be unstoppable. It’s obvious that his stint as a leader on Team USA has kept him at the peak of his game and given him the confidence to play his best. It’ll be interesting to see if Coach K could be tempted to replace for Phil considering the Lakers roster.
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As for the Killer B’s, they are definitely for real. I’ve never been a big UPS supporter but I have to say that I was screaming his name last night when he attacked the rim with those two great back-to-back drives. And the way that Blake and Barnes are moving the ball on the perimeter is dazzling. It’s funny but I loved Matt Barnes when he was a Bruin and then sort of lost confidence in him as bounced around the league. Well, let me tell you, the guy is definitely going to become a part of the Lakers future plans the way he is playing right now. Talk about energy and hustle off the bench, Matt is proving himself to be a Laker.
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The one area where we obviously need to improve is defensively, both on preventing dribble penetration and also on protecting the rim. Drew’s return should help solve that problem but I could easily see him coming off the bench until he gets fully into game shape. And even after he starts, I think we are going to see Drew become a staple fixture to stay on the floor when LO and the Killer B’s enter the game. He would then be the offensive focus and inside presence for the second unit. But make no mistake, once Drew gets into condition, he’ll return as the starting center and the anchor to the Lakers defense.
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With most of my fiscal year end now out of the way at work, I finally was able to catch up on the thousand threads per day that MM is posting. Great comments by so many people that I had to read every damn post. And some great RCOD awards to some very deserving posters including a few newbies. Just like the Lakers, the blog seems to be in mid-season form with an even deeper and stronger star studded roster.
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TOM

I could be wrong, but I think that picture explains Kobe better than anything else, for I believe that's the medal ceremony and they are playing the National Anthem, are they not?

If so, then it all makes sense: Melo's busy smiling at his bling (because that's what's important to him). DWade is pissed that he couldn't close the medal game and be touted. Lebron, needing help, is embarrassed and won't look anyone in the eye (it seems as if he's thinking about giving the medal back). And Kobe... Kobe is singing the National Anthem, #1!

Dude represents.

LOL @ Six Tre. "WHAT SHOULD I DO? SHIP MY MEDAL BACK TO CHINA? HAND OVER MY CROWN TO KOBE BRYANT CAUSE HE HAS 5 RINGS AND I HAVE NONE?"


As the final words in that (DUMBAZZ) commercial say: JUST DO IT!

Mamba24- I guess you decided to take the day off, but nice looking out and sending in the roll call. Enjoy your day my brother, CARRY ON CRUE.

LEWSTRS present and accounted for...checking in for Game Day Roll Call...

On my mind this morning...Letters of the alphabet...

PJ - Phil Jackson...the best coach ever...

Killer Bs...It will be a term the Association will correlate to "SCARY"...

Kobe Bryant
Andrew Bynum
Shannon Brown
Steve Blake
Matt Barnes

Q Connection...The Queensbridge Connection...our heart, muscle and attitude...

Lamar Odom
Ron Artest
Devin Ebanks

In Lakerdom...PG doesn't stand for point guard, but the best big man in the game presently...

Pau Gasol

Then we have the PTs...players vying for playing time...or 'part timers'

Theo Ratliff
Sasha Vuyacic
Luke Walton...

Got to mention the BF...or none of this is possible...The Buss Family, led by matriarch Dr. Buss

Jerry Buss
Jeannie Buss
Jim Buss

And can't forget MM...who keeps our Blog the best in Lakerville...

Mark Medina...

And I end with LD-TNG

Lakers Dynasty - The Next Generation...

#17 Coming UP!!!

utz - you've been "on" all day makin' me laugh. Much appreciated.

Tonight, I want to laugh at the victory.

Anyone going to the game tonight? I'll be there in full Lakers garb. Should be a quiet Kings crowd tonight, looking forward to seeing my Lakers live!

63 Footer

brilliant de-construction of 3 "conspicous" placed characters.

that is and was the difference between d'Artagnan and the 3 Musketeers. that reminds me of Opening Olympic parade when the fans were cheering Nations and the one and only KOBE.

wes Melo dreaming of Sacramento?

2phattt,

you wrote: I agree with you on some points, but Phil and most Laker supporters can care less about the Bull old record. Were looking for the record 3-peat, not a regular season record.lol

my response:

I think you've got this wrong. They will certainly tell you that & I'm sure that
given a choice, they want the ring/championship over everything else.

That said:

Every single Laker is thinking: "I want it all. I want it all. & I want it NOW! "

Can you imagine a finer season than:

beating the old Lakers record for consecutive victories.
beating the old Bulls record for best season.

crushing in the playoffs.

KB picks up MVP && finals MVP.

PJ picks up ring #12

Buss ties the Celtics.

I'm telling you, this uber competitive bunch is *extremely* aware of every
record that is on the table. How could you be competitive and *NOT* try to
pick up every record???

ouchhhhhhhh - "was Melo dreaming of Sacramento?"

Mr. Relentless!

I hate that picture, Medina. Well, at least the right side and middle part. The left is pretty awesome.

DBDH!

Some great stuff on the blog today. I haven't been able to sit down and read everything last couple of days (at least without nausea, not because of comments, just a ear infection thing- dfish wasn't posting comments), but I enjoyed everything today.

It sure is nice on the blog when the Lakers are winning, but I think it's also fun because the Lakers are having fun.

The chemistry between the Killer B's on the floor and the little bits of competitiveness (cheerfully done) between Kobe and Lamar, the zinging between Pau and Phil; The great interplay between Ron and Artest...great times, great times.

IT IS ALL ABOUT THE LOVE

GO LAKERS!

@hobbitmage - Salut right back at'cha! Can't argue with your theory about the confluence of record breaking events. That is a quirky information jumkies dream.

I still think Bynum does more, even after his multitude of injuries and slow rehab process, then he's given credit for. Also, like a shooting slump, we'll never know how he's going to do until we throw him out there and let him play some big minutes. I figure he's back by 12/1 but comes off the bench (although it wouldn't blow my mind if he was put in the starting 5 right away), he works his way into the starting 5 by the All Star game and is physically and mentally ready for the playoffs.

It took KG a whole season of playing on his surgically repaired knee before he started to look like KG again as he has this season. With Bynum, I expect it will take much less time as he's roughly a decade younger with far less wear. By all accounts the procedure was a rousing success, the extra time rehabbing will onyl strngthen his leg and make it harder to re-injure it (barring team mates rolling into his lower extremities).

Wil the transition be seamless? Probably not and I expect Bynum's first month to cause multiple lines to be drawn in the sand here on the old Blog, but I'm willing to give him until the All Star break to see how what he can bring to the team. But I don't think his return will eliminate our benches slick play.

I expect to see Ratliff getting some time with Bynum when Gasol and Odom need rest this season. Bynum can have another big man who won't need the ball in his hands (like Lamar and Pau often do), he could help the young lad get some more shot blocking skills and the two of them would patrol the paint well, letting the Killer Bs (love that name, reminds me of Anthrax's album of the same name) gamble a little more in the passing lanes knowing that there are two defensive stalwarts in the paint.

It should be fun, though!

Kobe Bryant, utility? Kobe is just being coy. He knows that when there's 4 seconds left on the shot clock, the four guys on his team will look to him to seal the deal. Let us not forget how close that gold medal game really was! KB24 not only made shot after cold-blooded shot, but he played superlative defense (a.k.a. BEAST MODE) throughout the final quarter. LBJ, DWade, and the rest of those posers should be thanking Kobe for their international success. The Master was schooling his opponents as well as his teammates. His defensive pressure will be a welcome addition to the 2012 team. Durant will score, Lamar will soar, Wade will roar, and LBJ will bore.

DBDH!

@phred - There's nothing like watching Ron and Artest get into debates about who was the greatest Mo Town singer of all time. They NEVER agree!


@LakerTom - Congrats on getting through the year! I, too, am looking forward to see how the team integrates Bynum. I expect it will cause some controversy here, but I'm going to give Bynum until the All Star break before critiquing him too much. It's all about the playoffs, although hobbitmage does bring up a very good point about a nexus of NBA records...in-ter-esting!

@MM - Agreed, Kobe is doing the exact right thing both for him, the Lakers and the country. We could, potentially, have three Lakers in the Olympics! What better pedigree of player do you want than a world champion, an Olympian, and a Laker? I mean, c'mon man.

I know Kobe wants another Olympic gold or maybe he doesn't want to see the other guys win without him. Anyway with all the additional miles on the odometer by 2012 I think Kobe may be promising something he can't keep!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJP2PH8WKaI

i personally am glad to see kobe put his hat in the ring for 2012 olympics. the beijing olympics showed the world that kobe bryant is the most popular player in the world. he was mobbed in beijing. outside of yao "injured" ming, he the 2nd most popular player in that country. kobe had no idea how amazing his olympic experience would be, plus then you add a gold medal to freaking oustanding resume! i'm down with it!

LRob - you are saying Kobe cannot keep his promise, in fact he is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jKcyFG-23Q

hobbitmage - I see your point, well taken.

Game day, and I'm on the run.

Thanks for an epic roll call, Mamba24. Let the domination continue in Sac-town.

Go Lake Show!

63 Footer - the Lakers are Kobe's first love. Thus, he needs to call coach K and tell him:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a9uhrhIlBQ&ob=av3e

LRob - you know that Kobe would NEVER say that. If he said anything, he'd say:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzN0mMx-sJg

"Game day, and I'm on the run."- The Outlaw
Wouldn't expect anything less from an Outlaw.

63 Footer - No doubt Kobe's a man's man. But you know there a times a man's got to make sacrifices and walk away from something he really wants:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pFT18a3VwQ

LRob - I cannot agree with you, but I can only bow to the David Ruffin. Does he look a little like Walt Frazier, or is that just me?

Kobe should have kept quiet and then had a 1-hour 'Decision 2012' special.

Kobe should have kept quiet and then had a 1-hour 'Decision 2012' special.
Posted by: Angie | November 03, 2010 at 03:52 PM
============

LOL, perfect.

C'mon Art & Angie - you know Kobe's a classy guy. He'd never stoop to something as narcissitic as that. He's got too much respect for the game and all that goes along with it.

63 Footer - Maybe a "little" with the hat on the album cover at the beginning, but I think that's just you...lol.

Anyway the Spencer/Winwood track made the whole conversation worthwhile. Unfortunately you're probably right cause Kobe not going to go back on his word unless he's really banged up.

LRob - always fun.

I think it was the purple suit - Clyde used to have a propensity for them.

2012 is a little down the road there so anything can happen. By then, he'll have ring #7 and just might want to rest his body for #8. Heck... He just might want to go back to being #8 in honor of the chase:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7O5jmAzBju8


GO LAKERS!!

it would have been so silly for kobe to play this summer. not with the knee and plus every other big star did not play for their country so usa were always going to win and now dont have to play next year so its all about 2012. kobe and the guys will have had 3 summers off and this question is so silly to ask given its a long way away.


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