Bryant plans on playing for U.S.
DENVER -- The three leading scorers on USA Basketball's 2008 gold-medal winning team at the Olympics in Beijing were separated by a mere eight points.
The guy who was first, Dwyane Wade, has a divorce case that might preclude him from playing in the world championships this summer in Turkey.
The second-leading scorer, LeBron James, told the Associated Press that the likelihood of him renewing his commitment to the U.S. national team this summer as "very, very shady right now," and added, "I'm probably not playing."
The third-leading scorer, Kobe Bryant, would not commit either way Thursday and would not try to persuade Wade or James to reconsider their plans.
"They're grown men, they make their own decisions," Bryant said at the Los Angeles Lakers shootaround in preparation for a game against the Denver Nuggets. "At the end of the day, they have to listen to what their bodies are telling them and make that call. It's something I won't talk to them about."
Bryant said he is playing "as far as I know," but added that the decision would hinge on his health.
"Obviously I have a couple health issues, one being a cracked finger," Bryant said. "But, we'll see how it goes."
Bryant was confident that the player pool of 27 invitees to training camps in Las Vegas and New York City this summer, many of whom have played in USA camps the last several years, would allow Team USA to be successful in Turkey, no matter if Wade or James decide to make the trip.
"We don't have a shortage of talent, that's for sure. That's never been our problem," Bryant said. "Our problem has been having a group of guys that have played together, play well together. That's been our biggest issue."
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo had some critical words for James when informed of the reigning NBA MVP's comments about the worlds, saying, "no free passes, regardless who it is," for consideration for the 2012 Olympics team if a player chooses not to participate in the summers of 2010 or 2011.
"That's Mr. C's call," Bryant said about Colangelo. "It's his show. He's done a great job running it so far. That's on him to make that determination."Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.