All professional athletes dream about ending their careers on a high note. Their dreams consist of winning a championship in their respective sport, announcing their retirement, and leaving fans with a lasting image of them going out on top. Unfortunately, it rarely works out that way. More often than not, pro athletes—especially superstars—hang around one or two (or three or four or…) years longer than they should and end up putting a chink in their armor. Even the great Michael Jordan did it, playing a couple of forgettable seasons with the Wizards at the end of his career.

Kobe Bryant doesn't want to go out like that. He wants people to remember him as a champion, not as a guy who spent the last five years of his career coming up short. So according to USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo, Kobe is considering ending his career by playing with the U.S. men's Olympic basketball team one more time. He hasn't committed to it yet, but Colangelo just told ESPN.com that he and Kobe have talked about the possibility of him playing in the 2016 Summer Olympics next summer.

"I was quoted on Kobe," Colangelo said in Las Vegas last night. "In response to a question about him, I said it would be a great story if he did [play in Rio]. And so, he also mentioned to me in a private conversation that if he had his druthers, he would love to ride off into the sunset playing one more time and winning the gold medal. And that would be the end. But he was very quick to say, 'But I don't want a spot. I need to earn the spot. I need to be capable of playing at that level to be considered.' And I said, 'You got that. That's always there for you, Kobe.'"

Let's face facts: Kobe is not—we repeat, NOT—going to win a championship with the Lakers next season. So if he wants to leave the game of basketball on a high, he's going to have to do it by taking part in the Olympics—or by going and playing overseas like he's said he might do. It'll be interesting to see which road he takes.

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[via ESPN]