The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

mi­ami» Kobe Bryant is pass­ing the Olympic torch.

Bryant re­vealed Satur­day he is re­mov­ing him­self from con­sid­er­a­tion for a spot on the U.S. team that will com­pete at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics this sum­mer, mean­ing the five­time NBA cham­pion’s re­tire­ment be­gins of­fi­cially when his 20th and fi­nal sea­son with the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers ends.

Bryant made the an­nounce­ment in Salt Lake City be­fore the Lak­ers’ game against the Utah Jazz. He has in­formed USA Bas­ket­ball chair­man Jerry Colan­gelo and Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski of his de­ci­sion.

Bryant said it’s sim­ply time to move on, and let some­one else — the younger stars like Stephen Curry — en­joy their Olympic jour­ney.

“Since my re­tire­ment an­nounce­ment, I’m able to watch th­ese guys in a dif­fer­ent light,” said Bryant, a gold medal­ist in 2008 and 2012. “I’ve come to terms with the fact that they are the fu­ture of this game. Th­ese are the guys who de­serve the spots in Rio. Th­ese are the guys who peo­ple need to watch and root for. Th­ese are the guys to show fans where this game is go­ing in the fu­ture.”

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