November 3, 2010: The 2012 Summer Olympics are still about 630 days away, but basketball fans and marketing partners of USA Basketball received some good news when Kobe Bryant revealed that he will play on the team heading to London.
Bryant, who helped lead the USA Men's National Basketball team to a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, was a guest on the Sirius XM radio show hosted by Mike Krzyzewski, who is head coach of the men's team and also head coach of the Duke men's hoops squad.
"It’s a huge honor to be a part of that," Bryant told Krzyzewski. "You guys want me there, I am there and I'm ready to defend. And then when you guys need me to put some points on the board I'll do that too."
USA Basketball marketing partners include State Farm, Gatorade, Tiffany, Joseph Abboud, Got Milk? and Nike, which also partners with Bryant. The 2012 Summer Games will be held July 27-Aug. 12, 2012.
"It’s a huge honor to be a part of that. You guys want me there, I am there."
Bryant, a member of the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, is not only among the best players in the league but also a highly regarded athlete among the global sports and sports marketing community. His Lakers' jersey, for example, has been the top-selling NBA jersey in Europe for three consecutive years and has topped the sales charts in China for four years. This past pre-season he toured with the Lakers as part of the NBA Europe Live tour that included a game at The O2 in London, which will host the final stages of the basketball competition at the 2012 Olympics.
However, Bryant will be 34 when the Games are played, a fact to which he alluded during his time on Krzyzewski's show on Nov. 2. "If anything, I’ll just be [New York Yankees relief pitcher] Mariano Rivera [and] come in in the last two minutes.”
Bryant was not on the U.S. squad the won the FIBA World Basketball championship this past summer. The squad was led by Kevin Durant and other NBA players including Rajon Rando, Derrick Rose and Stephen Curry. Players such as LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony also are considered top candidates for the 2012 squad.