Why Kobe Bryant should play for Team USA in the 2016 Olympics
It was reported several days ago that Kobe Bryant is considering playing for Team USA one last time, in the 2016 Olympics. If ever, this might serve as the ending to his legendary playing career. In true Kobe fashion, he made it clear that he wants to earn a spot, and not just be handed over a slot. Naturally, this prompted debates left and right if he deserves a slot or not. There are others who disagree, they say that Kobe is too old and that he should give the spot to a younger guy. But others feel that Kobe deserves this honor to end his career. Let us look at some of the reasons why Kobe Bryant making it to Team USA is a good thing.
1.) It is going to be a great moment for Olympic Basketball.
When people talk about the memorable moments in Olympic basketball, they talk about the dominance of Team USA during the first several tournaments of Olympic basketball, the controversial loss to USSR back in 1972, the disappointing 1988 bronze medal finish, the Dream Team in 1992, Vince Carter’s dunk on Frederic Weis in 2000, another disappointing Team USA bronze medal in 2004 and the Redeem Team that regained the basketball dominance for the USA in 2008. Kobe Bryant ending his career in the Olympics would be another great moment in Olympic basketball. It is a feel good story, and the Olympic games love a feel good story. Sure, this is no underdog story, Team USA is the heavy favorites regardless if Kobe plays or not, and Kobe’s career speaks for it self with or with out another gold medal next year, but it is still a great story.
2.) It is going to be a great moment for International basketball in general, for the international players and basketball fans worldwide
The Dream Team inspired a lot of kids all over the world to play basketball and to aspire to reach for the NBA. Dirk Nowitzki, Manu Ginobli, Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and several other International Stars are influenced by the Dream Team. Basketball grew worldwide thanks to the 1992 Olympics and a decade after; the International teams are already defeating Team USA, leading to a recalibration of the whole USA basketball program. A lot of the young NBA players of today grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant. They grew up with him; they watched the high-flying young kid with an Afro rocking number 8 that evolved into the legendary Black Mamba wearing number 24. The International players, especially those who do not play in the NBA, would consider it an honor to play against Kobe Bryant during his last tournament. It is going to be a great moment for basketball fans worldwide to see Kobe retire in the Olympics, and it is going to inspire the young basketball players all over the world to hone their skills, as they try to make it to the next level of their respective basketball careers.
3.) He is the perfect “elder statesman” for Team USA.
Just like Jason Kidd during the 2008 Redeem Team and Magic Johnson and Larry Bird during the Dream Team, Kobe can serve as the elder statesman for Team USA this 2016. The Olympics is also a “convention” of sorts for the greatest athletes in the world, and how fitting is it for Kobe, one of the greatest athletes of this generation, to be in company with some of the elite athletes in the world.
It is a marketing dream for the Olympics, the NBA and Nike if Kobe plays in the Olympics next year. Imagine the slogan. There would be a one last run theme. His Team USA jersey sales would be off the hook and “sneaker heads” would salivate for another USA color way of the Kobe signature shoes.
5.He is clutch.
For those saying that there is no “basketball reason” for Kobe to be in the 2016 Olympic team, and all the reasons are purely emotional, the Lakers fans can still give a basketball reason why Kobe should be on the team. The Americans are the heavy favorites to win the gold, but winning the gold is not a sure thing. Upsets can happen, especially during the “win or go home” format. After a disappointing World Cup, Spain would look to bounce back in perhaps the last run of the Pau Gasol led Spaniards. Maybe the golden generation of Argentina can try to make one last run. If they can get their young NBA stars to play for them, Canada can compete. Teams such as Serbia, France, Lithuania and Brazil can compete as well. No team can beat Team USA in a best of 7 series, but anything can happen in one game. We all know what happened to Kentucky during the last NCAA finals. Team USA was loaded on paper during the 2006 World Basketball Championships, but still lost to Greece in the semi-finals and settled for another Bronze medal. Kobe might not be in his athletic prime anymore, but he can still go. If the team needs a clutch basket, he can still make that shot. He can be the lockdown defender of the opposing teams top perimeter offensive weapon. If it is a close game in the fourth quarter, Kobe can motivate his troops. Kobe wearing a Team USA jersey is already a plus for the Americans in the mind games department.
Would Kobe make it to the team? The competitions for the slots are going be tough. Although a few of the veterans in the pool might eventually back off, the young stars are also eager to prove their worth. There are several combo guards, shooting guards and small forwards who would be fighting for slots and Kobe would needs to prove that he should be chosen over those guys. But if Kobe makes the team, it would be an incredible story, and an amazing retirement ceremony.