Kobe won't play for USA after knee surgery

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Kobe Bryant had minor surgery on his right knee Saturday and is highly unlikely to play for the
United States in the world championships this summer.

The announcement Saturday that the U.S. team will be without the NBA's leading scorer comes just five days before the Americans open their training camp in Las Vegas.

USA Basketball said Bryant will still attend part of the camp
and will travel with the team in Asia for training in exhibitions
in China and South Korea, and the world championships in Japan.

But full recovery from the procedure normally takes eight to 12
weeks, leaving it doubtful Bryant will be available for any of the
world championships, which run from Aug. 19-Sept. 3.

The U.S. has to choose its 12-man roster for the worlds before
competition starts, and it can't be changed.

"We trust that Kobe will have a total and speedy recovery, and
we were pleased that he expressed a willingness to remain as
involved with our team as possible through this process," USA
Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said in a statement.
"Kobe being with the team will add to our team chemistry and his
presence will help provide valuable off court leadership."

If Bryant is out 12 weeks, he could miss the beginning of Lakers
training camp in October.

"It's our understanding that it's pretty minor, typical
arthroscopic surgery to clean up some scar tissue," Lakers
spokesman John Black told the Los Angeles Times. "He misses maybe
the start of training camp, but as you're aware, Kobe is probably
in the best condition of anybody in the league, which shouldn't set
him back.

"Nobody in the league works harder than Kobe. He'll be back at
100 percent."

Bryant wore an athletic sleeve to control swelling in the leg
last season. It was one of several small ailments that slowed him
during the Lakers' playoff run.

Bryant's withdrawal is the fourth this week for the U.S. team,
but easily the biggest blow. One of the leaders of a team that is
trying to bounce back from two recent disappointments, he and
LeBron James were the first two players publicly named to the team,
nearly two months before the rest of the squad was unveiled.

Already this week, the 24-player U.S. roster lost J.J. Redick
(back injury), Lamar Odom (personal reasons) and Paul Pierce
(expected to have elbow surgery in August).

"That's why you have a roster," USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said
Thursday during a conference call. "That's why you have a team, so
that when these normal life situations come up we can go on without
it being an emergency, or calling upon somebody to crash train in
order to be part of a team. And that's kind of what happened in our
world championships in 2002 and it happened a little bit also for
the Olympics in 2004."

The Americans finished sixth in 2002 and won a bronze medal in
Athens. That led to the creation of the U.S. national team program
under the direction of Colangelo, and Bryant quickly committed to

Bryant was supposed to be on the Olympic team in 2004, but was
forced to drop out while facing a sexual assault trial in Colorado.

Even without Bryant, who averaged 35.4 points this season, the
Americans still have plenty of scoring options on their roster from
players such as James, Dwyane Wade and Gilbert Arenas.

USA Basketball said Bryant is not expected to miss any of his
commitments with the Los Angeles Lakers.