Bryant, most of '08 team to skip Turkey
In an interview with AOL Fanhouse on Monday, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Bryant, as well as every other player on the 2008 Olympic team except for Deron Williams and Chris Paul, will not compete in the FIBA World Championships in Turkey.
"It's a combination of three things: free agency, injuries and having gone hard for a long time,'' Colangelo said. "And I'm OK with that."
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Bryant had not decided whether he would play before leaving for South Africa to attend the World Cup, but hinted it was time for a break after his exit interview two weeks ago.
"We've been in the Finals now three years in a row," he said. "We've been playing a great deal of basketball, so, this summer for me is about getting healthy. I think that will give us the best opportunity to defend our title again."
Bryant said he planned to meet with the Lakers' medical staff to evaluate his body and he expected to have surgery on his right index finger, which has developed arthritis in the knuckle after he fractured it in December.
"There will be something invasive; I don't expect it to be anything major," Bryant said about the surgery. "The finger was a constant problem [this season]."
Bryant's decision could have been influenced by his on-court sidekick Pau Gasol, who announced on his website before Game 1 of the Finals that he would not play for his home country of Spain this summer to rest his hamstrings that caused him to miss 17 regular-season games in 2009-10.
In February, Lakers forward Lamar Odom was invited by Colangelo to try out for the team and expects to make it.
"I'm going to stay sharp, stay prepared and I'm going to have a little help with that because I'm going to go play in these World Championship games," Odom told reporters about his summer plans after his exit interview with the Lakers. "I am [looking forward to it]. Travel is always the best education I receive. To be able to play basketball and see different places, I'm always for that, [and] you represent your country."
There will be a training camp July 19-24 in Las Vegas to pare down the USA roster from 31 to 12. The World Championships run from Aug. 28-Sept. 12.Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.