Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Odom excited to be on Team USA
By Dave McMenamin
ESPN Los Angeles
Kobe Bryant was a member of the USA Men's Olympic Basketball squad known as the "Redeem Team" in 2008 in Beijing, and now Lamar Odom might get a chance at some personal Olympic redemption alongside Bryant in the 2012 Olympics.
Bryant and Odom were among the 27 players named Wednesday for the national team pool that will be used to select the rosters for this summer's world championships in Turkey and the 2012 Olympics in London.
"It's pretty cool to play on that stage and to try to get back there and get the opportunity to play for a gold medal, it's a big deal for me," Odom said before the Lakers' game against the Utah Jazz. "I'm excited."
Odom was a member of the 2004 USA Basketball team that finished with a disappointing bronze medal in Greece, causing the United States to revamp its Olympic selection process and appoint Jerry Colangelo in charge of developing a program that would bring together American basketball players for coaching, team building experiences and player evaluation in non-Olympic summers.
"The last couple of years they let me know that they wanted me to try out," Odom said. "Being friends with Kobe Bryant didn't hurt at all. I think a couple of guys put in a good word for me and I'm fortunate enough to get back."
Andrew Bynum was the third Lakers player invited to participate, but declined the invitation because of his demanding summer training schedule.
"I declined just because I know what my body needs in the offseason," Bynum said. "We go really hard during that time in rehabbing and getting my body together."
"I've had a bunch of injuries that I'm still recovering from, so I'm going to have to take care of those things."
Bynum, just 22 years old, will still be a relatively young 28 years old for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero should he be selected.
"It's something that I want to do somewhere along the line," Bynum said. "Just not right now."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said that he thought it was a good opportunity for Bryant and Odom because the training camp is held in Las Vegas, just a short trip from Los Angeles.
"They try to make it not too demanding on the players," Jackson said. "Kobe says that conditioning wise, he feels that it's good for him. He doesn't feel like he's stressed out or dragged out by the Olympic challenge the last time he went through it."
Jackson also said he thought Bynum's decision to pull out was a prudent one.
"I don't think that's a bad decision on Andrew's part," Jackson said. "He's got to spend a lot of his summer just trying to get himself reconditioned after taking a month or six weeks off, which he has to do."
"Because of the whole carriage [of a 7-foot, 285-pound body], Andrew's going to have to work harder at this. He's going to have to be very diligent about his work and I think that the extra games and pressure that it puts on his body, it might be a good decision."
Bryant is one of the nine players on the '08 Olympic team's 12-man roster invited back to the pool. Jason Kidd, Tayshaun Prince and Michael Redd were not asked to return.
Pau Gasol, who played on Spain's silver medal squad at the 2008 Olympics and gold medal team in the 2009 European Championship, has already said he will not participate in the FIBA World Championship this summer. Sasha Vujacic is expected to play for Slovenia, however.
The Los Angeles Clippers will be represented by Eric Gordon, as another member of the USA player pool, and Chris Kaman, who said he will play for Germany as long as Dirk Nowitzki commits.
"I'm closer to the end of the career than the beginning, so it was an opportunity that I really couldn't pass on," Odom said. "It would be cool to shoot some reality in TV [his wife, Khloe Kardashian] in Turkey a little bit, add something to the script a little bit."
"Now I can put that bronze medal away and hopefully one day brag about being on the gold-medal winning Olympic team, which is a pretty big deal," Odom added. "Hopefully I can play well enough at the right time to make it."