Updated 09:07 AM EDT, Tue, Sep 17, 2019

Why Kobe Bryant Withdrew from Team USA in Rio 2016 Games

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Kobe Bryant's competitive spirit and innate love for the game of basketball has propelled him to unimaginable success, not just in the NBA, but also on the global stage. His international play has dazzled thousands fans from Beijing to London, and many were hoping he would suit up one last time for Team USA in this year's Rio Olympics.

Unfortunately for Kobe fans and basketball aficionados in Brazil, the two-time Olympic gold medallist recently announced that he won't be playing for the Stars and Stripes come August. He decided to withdraw, not because of injuries, but because of his renewed sense of purpose.

Bryant told media members in Salt Lake City, via FIBA.com, that the American brand of basketball is in good hands and that his services, although much appreciated, is no longer needed. He said its high time for the younger generation of hoopsters to show the world what they got.

"Since my retirement announcement, I'm able to watch these guys in a different light. I've come to terms with the fact that they are the future of this game," Bryant explained. "These are the guys who deserve the spots in Rio. These are the guys who people need to watch and root for. These are the guys to show fans where this game is going in the future."

The 37-year old shooting guard was on five different USA Basketball national teams from 2007 to 2012. With Bryant on the squad, Team USA has not tallied a single loss in 36 games against international competition.

USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo told USA Today in December that the roster spots are solely based on performance. Bryant could cap off his career with a chance to win another gold medal in Rio, but he has to earn it like everybody else. He said Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, told him the five-time NBA champion also wanted it that way, and didn't want "any gifts."

Bryant's decision to retire from international play might dampen the morale of countless Team USA fans everywhere, but his absence isn't a devastating blow to the squad's backcourt potency. Emerging superstars like Klay Thompson, James Harden, Bradley Beal and Jimmy Butler will be more than happy to fill in that void.

As per USA Basketball, these are the players who might play for Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics:

Point Guard

  •  Mike Conley
  •  Stephen Curry
  •  Kyrie Irving
  •  Chris Paul
  •  John Wall

Shooting Guard

  •  Bradley Beal
  •  Jimmy Butler
  •  DeMar DeRozan
  •  James Harden
  •  Klay Thompson
  •  Russell Westbrook

Small Forward

  •  LeBron James
  •  Kevin Durant
  •  Rudy Gay
  •  Paul George
  •  Gordon Hayward
  •  Andre Iguodala
  •  Kawhi Leonard
  •  Harrison Barnes

Power Forward

  •  Anthony Davis
  •  Kenneth Faried
  •  Draymond Green
  •  Blake Griffin
  •  Kevin Love
  •  Carmelo Anthony
  •  LaMarcus Aldridge

Center

  •  DeMarcus Cousins
  •  Andre Drummond
  •  Dwight Howard
  •  DeAndre Jordan

Who do you think should earn a spot at the 2016 Rio Olympics? Comment your 12-man roster below.

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