Kobe Bryant not surprised by Team USA's FIBA World Cup losses

Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY
Published 1:18 p.m. ET Sept. 13, 2019
CLOSEKobe Bryant said Team USA’s two unexpected losses at this year’s FIBA World Cup — which guarantees its worst international finish with NBA players —  were no surprise given how the rest of the world has caught up over the past two decades. “It’s to the point now where us in the U.S. are going to win some, we’re going lose some. And that’s just how it goes,” Bryant told ESPN. The Americans face Poland on Saturday with a seventh-place finish on the line. Bryant played on gold medal teams for the U.S. national team in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Games. The future Hall of Famer who played for 20 NBA seasons and won five rings was there at the start of a 58-game tournament winning streak for the Americans that was snapped with a loss to France this week.”It’s not a matter of the rest of the world catching up to the U.S., it’s that the rest of the world has been caught up for quite some time,” Bryant said. “The days of the ’92 Barcelona Dream Team are gone. They’re over, so it’s going to be tough.””You have to remember, on the (2008) ‘Redeem Team’ we needed a hell of a fourth quarter to beat Spain. That was a hell of a team we had. We still needed a real late push to beat Spain in that gold-medal match. So I say that to say, put the best players that you think are going to make the best U.S. team out on the floor, we are still going to have challenges. It’s not going to be a cakewalk.”A slew of the NBA’s best players, including James Harden, Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard, didn’t play on this Team USA for various reasons. Bryant also bypassed Olympic competition early in his career for various personal reasons, and said he supports that. “Some of those guys haven’t had the opportunity to play for the United States, so I’m sure if their health allowed them to, they certainly would’ve been over here playing,” Bryant said. “But a lot of those guys are coming off of serious injuries and trying to figure out how to navigate through that to get healthy again and back to 100%. Other guys are moving, moving to different cities and getting their families to settle in. It’s a big adjustment for families, so I certainly understand it.”AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide

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