EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) -- Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant plans to play for the United States in the 2004 Summer Olympics as well as next summer's qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico.
"I just want to play, just made up my mind," Bryant said. "It hit me one morning. I wanted to compete. We need to get ourselves in position where we can go back to the Olympics and bring home what's rightfully ours."
Bryant said he told selection committee chairman Stu Jackson about his decision and recently talked with Philadelphia 76ers coach Larry Brown, who will coach the national team.
Jackson didn't immediately return a telephone call Friday.
With many of the NBA's best players skipping the World Championships last summer, the American team finished sixth, losing to Argentina, Yugoslavia and Spain, putting it in a position where it must qualify for the Olympics.
The FIBA Americas Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament will be held Aug. 20-31 in San Juan, P.R.
USA Basketball spokesman Craig Miller said Friday the organization will make an official announcement when the selection process is completed.