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Kobe Bryant jokingly takes shot at Pau Gasol while confirming he will sit out 2016 Olympics

Kobe-Bryant-Paul-Gasol-Trade-RumorsKobe Bryant has battled several unfortunate injuries over the past year, so it comes as no surprise that he has likely participated in his last Olympic Games. On Monday, Kobe confirmed that he would not be competing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, though he said he would attend the Games as a spectator.

Bryant, who is recovering from a knee injury that he suffered shortly after making his return from rehabbing an Achilles injury, took the opportunity to rip on Pau Gasol while he was speaking to reporters.

Burn. Gasol’s native country of Spain took home the silver medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the London Olympics in 2012. Kobe and the Americans won gold both years.

Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, an assistant coach for Team USA, said on Monday that he plans on trying to convince Bryant to change his mind about Rio. Kobe said he would welcome the flattery.

“He can try all he wants,” Bryant said, via Serena Winters of Lakers Nation. “I love Tibs. That conversation with him would be more than welcome.”

In reality, Kobe is having enough trouble staying healthy during the grueling NBA schedule. Competing in the Olympics near the time of his 38th birthday would probably not be wise.

H/T SI Wire

Olympic torchbearer accidentally lights himself on fire (Video)

Olympic-torchbearer-fireCarrying the Olympic torch can be a dangerous and stressful task. Last month, a bystander had to light the torch with his lighter after the flame went out during a relay. Earlier this week, something a little more dangerous happened. One of the torchbearers, former Olympic bobsledder Pyotr Makarchuk, accidentally lit himself on fire.

Fortunately, no one was injured. Some of the fuel from the torch dripped onto the torchbearer’s jacket as he was carrying it through the Siberian city of Abakan on Wednesday. According to Deadspin, some of Makarchuk’s escorts quickly put out the fire that was burning on his shoulder. In the future, I’m sure he will carry the torch out in front of himself a bit more. The last thing we want to see is a flaming head.

Maurice Clarett is training to play rugby in the 2016 Olympics in Rio

Maurice-Clarett-Ohio-StateMaurice Clarett has traveled down an incredibly windy road throughout his 29 years of life, and it appears he has decided to take another unexpected turn. According to RugbyMag.com, Clarett is currently training to try to make the US rugby team for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

Clarett has joined the Tiger Rugby Olympic Development Program in Columbus, Ohio. He has absolutely no prior rugby experience, but Tiger Rugby director Paul Holmes praised Clarett for being a tremendous athlete.

“He’s committed to try to make Rio in 2016,” Holmes said. “That’s Maurice’s plan. His footwork is phenomenal. He’s nowhere near conditioned for rugby, but that will come. … The stuff he’s doing in the gym right now, he’s just ridiculous.”

Clarett rushed for 1,237 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown in the national championship during his freshman season at Ohio State. He was one of the most promising young talents in college football before the Buckeyes dismissed him after it was believed that he took $20,000 worth of improper benefits during his freshman season. He unsuccessfully tried to join the NFL Draft early after leaving college but wasn’t able to enter until he was taken by the Denver Broncos in the third round of the 2005 draft. Clarett then got into more legal trouble that included an armed robbery incident after being released by the Broncos.

And now, the former Buckeye wants to represent his country — in a sport he has never played. As for his troubled past, Walker said the folks at Tiger Rugby were given reason to believe Clarett is a changed man.

“We hit up a few guys whose opinion we value in Columbus,” Walker explained. “We’ve been assured by people that we trust that he’s a different person, that he’s found himself. And I believe in giving him a shot.”

Is Clarett going to be on the US rugby team when the sport makes its Olympic debut in a few years? That would be a miracle, but at least he’s found himself a hobby that should help keep him out of trouble. If he was in it for the money, he’d probably just go back to Ohio State and fish around. He made some good dough there 10 years ago.

H/T SB Nation

Rory McIlroy may skip Olympics to avoid Ireland/Great Britain controversy

Golf is returning to the Olympic Games in 2016, and many expect Rory McIlroy to be one of the sport’s top competitors on the world stage. The problem is McIlroy does not know which country he would represent. The 23-year-old hails from Northern Ireland, a country that does not have an Olympic team. Geographically, it would make sense for McIlroy to represent either Great Britain or Ireland. But he doesn’t want to offend anyone.

“I just think being from where we’re from, we’re placed in a very difficult position,” McIlroy said in a new BBC documentary. “I feel Northern Irish and obviously being from Northern Ireland you have a connection to Ireland and a connection to the UK. If I could and there was a Northern Irish team I’d play for Northern Ireland.”

In fact, McIlroy hasn’t ruled out the possibility of skipping the event altogether if he can’t make up his mind.

“Play for one side or the other – or not play at all because I may upset too many people,” he explained. “Those are my three options I’m considering very carefully. … People tune in to watch me play on TV and feel like they are connected to me in some way. I don’t want to do repay them for their support with something they don’t want me to do.”

Golf fans are certainly hoping McIlroy decides to participate. If he has to, he should flip a coin on live television or something so the fans know his decision was completely random. Having the world’s best golfer say “no thanks” would be a tough way for the sport to make its Olympic return.

H/T Golf Channel

There will reportedly be no basketball age limit at 2016 Olympics in Rio

For people like Mark Cuban, it looks like the next four years are going to be just as long as the last four were. As you probably know, there is no one more vocal than Cuban when it comes to the idea of superstar athletes competing in the Olympics without their NBA teams receiving compensation. He and David Stern, among others, have made it a goal to restrict Olympic play to players who are 23 years old or younger. It doesn’t look like that plan will be coming to fruition any time in the near future.

According to Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thompson, a source told SI.com on Thursday that it is “unlikely” any type of age limit could be put into place in time for it to affect the 2016 Olympic in Rio, Brazil. Owners are aiming to eventually create a World Cup of basketball that would become the premier international basketball tournament every four years, but a plan of that magnitude could reportedly take years to complete.

As the opinions of NBA stars like Kobe Bryant and Tyson Chandler have shown, the players want to be able to choose whether or not they will compete in the Olympics. They take a great deal of pride in the tournament and some even feel as though it helps prepare them for the upcoming season. Fortunately for the players and fans of so-called “Dream Teams,” anything involving the IOC is bound to be a long and tedious process.