Bryant Could Have Last Laugh On Rubio In London

One of these guys won’t be laughing like this in London.

When Kobe Bryant and Ricky Rubio exchanged friendly fire and jokes after the Los Angeles Lakers’ 106-101 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minnesota on Sunday night, it was all in good clean fun.

“You’re going to get the Silver medal,” Rubio told Bryant about Team USA’s chances at the 2012 London Olympics.

After dropping a long drawn out expletive, Bryant then anted-up:

“I’m taking bets. If I win, I get the keys to Barcelona.”

With Team USA once again favored to win gold medal as the No. 1 team in the world after capturing gold medals in 2008 and 2010, the joke very easily could be on Rubio. Then again, Spain — along with France, Argentina and Brazil — will serve as the biggest competition for Team USA. It has the makings for an interesting summer full of national pride and even more friendly wagers apparently.

Thus far nine teams have earned Olympics spots including the US, Spain, Great Britain, France, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, China, and Tunisia, with the remaining three slots to be determined at qualifying events in early July.

“We’ll see what’s going to happen,” Rubio told the press on Monday. “It’s going to be good. I mean, we have pretty good players. We’ll be a pretty good team.”

Part of that “pretty good team” along with Rubio consists of fellow NBA’ers Pau and Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez, Serge Ibaka and Jose Calderon. And it’s Spain’s backcourt of Rubio, Calderon and Juan Carlos Navarro (formerly of the Memphis Grizzlies, now playing in Spain with Regal FC Barcelona) that excelled at the 2011 European Championships in Lithuania where Spain advanced to London and now looks for an encore performance at the Olympics.

As for Team USA, one word comes to mind with their roster: stacked.

LeBron James, Dwight Howard, and Kevin Durant are among the 20 players who will compete for selection for Team USA. The player list includes eight members of the 2008 gold medal team from Beijing, 10 members of the team who won the 2010 world title in Turkey, and includes a virtual NBA all-star team featuring Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge among the hopefuls. As the official 12-man roster Olympics in London will be announced prior to the NBA Finals, there was some doubt in early January if Bryant, because of his sore wrist, would even play for Team USA.

He cleared that up right away.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Bryant said, confirming he’s ready to go for London.

“I’m definitely going to be there because I sure as hell am not going to let that guy win it.”

Bryant was talking about Pau Gasol, but he might as well been talking about Rubio.

In the end, Bryant may have the last laugh — and he’ll be laughing all the way to collecting his keys to Barcelona.