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Kobe Bryant: A Gold Medal More Important Than NBA Title

Paul PeszkoSenior Writer IJuly 24, 2008

Is it sour grapes over getting crushed by the Boston Celtics in the NBA Title match? Or does the Lakers' Kobe Bryant and the NBA’s 2008 MVP really believe that an Olympic gold medal is more important than an NBA Title?

"I think winning a gold medal is more important because you're playing for your country," Bryant said while training with the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team in Las Vegas this week. "You're not playing for a region or a state or a brand. You are playing for the United States of America."

Both Lakers head coach, Phil Jackson, and GM Mitch Kupchak are more concerned about their particular brand than a gold medal. They wish that both Bryant and Pau Gasol, who is playing for the Spanish National Team, would have chosen to rest this summer.

If you put that same question to the Portland Trailblazers’ front office, they would probably wholeheartedly agree with Jackson and Kupchak. Last summer, the Trailblazers lost the NBA’s No. 1 overall draft pick, Greg Oden, for the entire season due to a knee injury he sustained while practicing with the U.S. Olympic Team.

So, how do fans feel about it? Would you prefer to see the star player on your favorite NBA team risk personal injury while playing for the U.S. or some other national team, or would you rather have that player rest up and do conditioning work for the upcoming season?

For me the answer is easy. Go on and play for your national team whether it’s the U.S., Russia, China, Turkey, or whoever. Why you ask? My reasoning is simple. I prefer basketball to baseball. Give me some basketball, any basketball, Malaysia versus Pakistan, the WNBA, the Summer League, whatever, I don’t care.

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Give me some basketball to hold me over until the NFL and college football begin. Just so I’m not held hostage to baseball night and day on all the sports networks. I don’t care if Gasol is playing for Spain, Nowitzki and Kaman for Germany, or Ming for China. The more the merrier, I say.

As a matter of fact, forget that four-year business. Make Olympic Basketball an annual summer event.

Well, that’s how I feel. But what about other basketball fans? What is your take? Give me a shout out, and let’s hear from all of you wherever you are and whoever you root for.

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