Updated: 07:59 PM EDT
Bryant Unlikely to Play in Olympics Due to Trial
Summer Games Could Conflict With Sexual Assault Trial in Colorado
By JOHN NADEL, AP SPORTS
LOS ANGELES (April 30)
-- Kobe Bryant acknowledged Friday that his legal problems will probably prevent him from playing in this summer's Olympic Games.
Kobe Bryant has left the possibility of playing in the Olympics open.
Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, released a statement saying the Los Angeles Lakers' star informed USA Basketball it is unlikely he'll be able to compete due to scheduling conflicts concerning his sexual assault charge in Colorado.
But Bryant hopes to keep the door open concerning participation in the Games, to be held Aug. 13-29 in Athens.
"Bryant expressed his intentions at this time to allow USA Basketball ample time to seek a replacement player," Pelinka's statement read in part. "Bryant also relayed a desire to keep the option open of playing for the USA team if there is a change in the scheduling or a dismissal of the case."
USA Basketball executive director Jim Tooley said it is "unfortunate" Bryant won't be able to participate.
"We appreciate the timing of his decision," Tooley said. "This will allow USA Basketball the time needed to identify the best possible replacement."
Only six players are considered locks to play for the U.S. team in Greece: Jermaine O'Neal, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Mike Bibby and Richard Jefferson.
State District Judge Terry Ruckriegle said earlier this week that Bryant will enter a plea in Eagle County during pretrial hearings May 10-12 -- nearly 10 months after he was charged with raping a 19-year-old woman at a Vail-area resort where she worked. He said the two had consensual sex.
Under state law, the trial must begin within six months after that, unless Bryant waives his right to a speedy process.
Both sides told the judge the earliest they could be ready for trial is late August or early September.
The 25-year-old Bryant was formally charged with felony sexual assault on July 18 -- almost three weeks after the alleged attack occurred. He faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation if convicted.
The Lakers and defending NBA champion Spurs begin their second-round playoff series Sunday in San Antonio.
04/30/04 19:38 EDT
Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.
I still think the US will win the Gold medal, but our chances would have been much better if he were able to play. Thankfully for him, he will still be young enough to play in 2008 in China, provided he won't be in jail on this trumped up charge.