Kobe Bryant named Olympic Finalist

As expected, Kobe Bryant was named as one of the 20 finalists for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Men’s basketball team, a roster which includes eight 2008 Olympic gold medalists and 10 members of the 2010 USA World Championship gold medal winning team.

The lone Laker to be named, Bryant will await further word about making the final roster, which has only 12 spots, but he is certainly expected to be in London.

“The USA Basketball Men’s National Team program has come a long way as the elite list of players who are now part of our program shows,” said USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo. “The selected finalists are a very, very talented group; the depth of the talent is extraordinary. This selection decision was as difficult of a challenge as I’ve faced since I took on the USA National Team program in 2005.”

Bryant has previously expressed his desire to play in the Olympics, and his coach in Los Angeles, Mike Brown, offered his encouragement on Monday at the team’s practice facility.

While Brown acknowledged that all coaches would like to make sure their players stand the best chance of being healthy for the next NBA season by getting proper rest in the offseason, he understands the pull of playing for one’s country.

The USA coaching staff is led by Duke University’s Mike Krzyzewski, with assistants Jim Boeheim, Mike D’Antoni, and Nate McMillan.

“Jerry has built an extremely deep and talented USA National Team roster of 35 players and I want to thank each player for their incredible commitment to being part of USA Basketball,” said Krzyzewski. “Reducing to 20 players was unbelievably difficult.”