Speaking in Beijing on the eve of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup final between Spain and Argentina, the 41-year-old former Los Angeles Lakers legend, who won Olympic gold with the United States at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, expressed no surprise at the failure of the U.S. team to defend its title.
"I hear that a lot: 'Did we send the best possible team that we can put out there?'" Bryant said before defending those stars who opted not to represent Team USA this summer.
"Put the best players that you think are going to make the best USA team out on the floor, we are still going to have challenges", Bryant said Friday in Beijing, between World Cup semifinal games. It's to the point now where the USA, we're going to win some and we're going to lose some. That's just how it goes. The next global championship will be the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where Team USA will seek their fourth consecutive gold medal. So I say that to say, put the best players that you think makes the best usa team out there on the floor and we are still going to have challenges. "It's not going to be a cakewalk".
One reason given for passing on the World Cup was that the tournament was being held especially late in the calendar year.
The iteration of the Team USA Kobe was talking about was The Dream Team, a squad made up of the best National Basketball Association players of the '80s and '90s.
The USA won gold at every major worldwide tournament between 2008 and 2016, but this World Cup was different, with numerous USA's top players choosing not to come. It's "going to be tough".
Kobe Bryant shared a stern warning to future U.S. basketball teams: "it's not going to be easy". The team that year was also led by veteran point guard Jason Kidd and beat Spain 118-107 to earn the gold medal.
"I think other guys looked at it like, 'Why would I want to go potentially be the face of what could be a losing roster?'" McCollum 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 percent. Other guys are moving, moving to different cities and getting their families to settle in.