Reporting from Salt Lake City — Good news: Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom were among the 27 players selected to compete for spots on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.
Bad news? Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom were among the 27 players selected to compete for spots on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.
It's an honor to be singled out among the NBA's best, for sure, but with it comes three shortened off-seasons, part of the lengthier commitment to Team USA that led to a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics.
It starts this summer, with a training camp in Las Vegas in June and the World Championship in Turkey in August and September. Next summer will bring an Olympic qualifying tournament at a place to be determined, likely preceded by another training camp. And, of course, in 2012, the London Olympics after another Olympic qualifying tournament.
"Kobe says that conditioning-wise, he feels that it's good for him," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "He doesn't feel like [he was] stressed out or dragged out by the Olympic challenge the last time he went through it."
Lakers center Andrew Bynum declined an invitation to be added to the 27-player pool, which will be pared down to about a dozen players by the time the Olympics roll around.
Bynum has had two knee injuries the last two seasons and said he wanted to heal from a litany of nagging injuries (knee, hip) after this season.
Said Jackson: "I don't think that's a bad decision on Andrew's part. He's got to spend a lot of his summer just trying to get himself rehabilitated -- I shouldn't use that word -- 'reconditioned,' after taking a month or six weeks off, which he has to do.
"Andrew's going to have to work harder at this. He's going to be very diligent about his work and I think that just the extra games and the pressure that puts on his body, he made a good decision."
One player who's eager to be part of the Team USA process is Odom, who was on the maligned 2004 team that won a bronze medal in the Olympics.
"It's cool to play on that stage, just trying to get back there and get an opportunity to play for a gold medal," he said. "Being friends with Kobe Bryant probably didn't hurt at all."
Odom said the 2004 experience was "humbling."
"Now I could put that bronze medal away and hopefully one day brag about being on the gold-medal winning Olympic team," he said.
Odom also alluded to the fact that his wife, Khloe Kardashian, might join him in Turkey.
"We signed up for everything that one another is doing," he said. "It would be cool to shoot some reality TV in Turkey a little bit, add something to the script a little bit."