Kobe Bryant will (mercifully) skip the World Championships

No surprise, really, but the news, first delivered by Chris Tomasson at AOL Fanhouse, will still come as a relief to Lakers fans and management as well. Given his workload over the past few years and the myriad injuries he suffered over the course of last season, it would have been- and I'm using technical jargon here, so try to follow along- absolutely freaking goonybird for Kobe Bryant to suit up this summer for Team USA at the FIBA World Championships in Turkey. Even if he wanted to, which he apparently did.

Seriously, if Pau Gasol, the living, breathing symbol of Spanish basketball, can take a breather, so can Bryant.

Lamar Odom still intends to play this summer. He'll be part of USA Basketball's pre-tourney training camp later this month, and given how few members of the '08 Olympic squad plan on participating- no Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Howard, Boozer, 'Melo, and more- a veteran, versatile player such as Odom seems a near-lock to make the team assuming good health.

Make no mistake, Odom could benefit from rest, too. He hasn't played as much internationally as Gasol or Bryant, but three straight Finals appearances, a celebrity wedding, and a host of injuries have certainly drawn gas from the tank. Odom fought through a variety of ailments play in all 82 games last season, and freely acknowledged a high level of physical and particularly mental fatigue at his postseason exit interview. But with the next Olympics still two summers away, the World Championships could represent Odom's last chance to represent his country in meaningful overseas competition.

I've always found it difficult to criticize guys for following that instinct.