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HOOPSWORLD.COM: As Team USA coasts into an Olympic berth, is there any doubt the impact Kobe Bryant has had on the squad?
While he was named this past season to the First Team All-Defensive Team . . . that was an award based more on reputation than performance. Bryant has been a very good defender throughout his career, but last season he lost some of his lateral quickness while recovering from knee surgery.
Clearly now Bryant is a healthier, quicker player having lost nearly 20 pounds on a new diet. Famous for his scoring prowess, Bryant’s defense has been the catalyst for Team USA. His leadership and commitment to teamwork has made even the most ardent detractors take notice.
Certainly Laker fans should be sitting back comfortably knowing they have the most complete perimeter player in the league on the roster.
Why then is there this nagging concern that simply won’t die . . . will Bryant be a Laker on opening night?
Ask the team and they’ll say “of course.” As things stand they have no intention of trading him. He may have a contract opt out in 2009 . . . but it’s 2007.