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Kobe Bryant tries to coax Michael Phelps to unretire (video)

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Not even Kobe Bryant could entice Michael Phelps to get back in the competition pool.

Bryant, a two-time Olympic champion, egged on Phelps while presenting the female athlete of the year award at USA Swimming’s Golden Goggles Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday night.

“Since it never gets old, would you like, just one more time?” Bryant told Phelps on stage (at 68:20 mark here). “Not me. You. You’re in much better shape than I am, dude. You can do it one more time.”

Phelps, as he has done for the last year, dismissed it.

“I’d rather be sitting in the stands during the next one and watching all of you,” Phelps said to the crowd, many of whom were active swimmers.

“All right, then I can save you a seat,” Bryant responded. “Just let me wear one of those medals.

“I got distracted by the gold medals, man. I’m wondering how he puts 28 [Olympic medals] on. I have no idea how that works. It’s crazy to me.”

The retired Lakers star got a first-hand look at an in-his-prime Phelps as a spectator at the 2008 Olympic swimming venue, the Water Cube.

“After seeing my first race in Beijing, I was hooked,” Bryant said.

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MORE: Ledecky wins race by 54 seconds, breaks record

Katie Ledecky, Caeleb Dressel lead Golden Goggles winners

Katie Ledecky, Caeleb Dressel
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel won athlete of the year honors at the Golden Goggle Awards on Sunday night, recognizing the year’s top performances by USA Swimming.

Ledecky won for the fifth consecutive year. She received her trophy from a couple of bearded retirees: Michael Phelps and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.

Ledecky earned five gold medals and a silver at the world championships in Budapest in July.

“My very first goal was to make friends in the sport,” Ledecky said. “I want to thank all my friends in this room for being there for me and making me love this sport.”

Bryant tried to egg Phelps into reconsidering retirement. But Phelps was having none of it.

“I’d rather be sitting in the stands during the next one watching all of you,” he told the audience.

Dressel joined Phelps as the only swimmers to win seven golds at a single world championships in Budapest. It was the first time in 11 years that either Phelps or Ryan Lochte didn’t win male athlete of the year at the event.

“I want to continue to learn and progress,” Dressel said.

Dressel also won for male race of the year for his world 100m butterfly title, missing Phelps’ world record from 2009 by .04.

Lilly King won for female race of the year, notching a 100m breaststroke world record and finishing nearly a second ahead of teammate Katie Meili. It was King’s first world title and first world record.

Mallory Comerford earned the trophy for breakout performer. In her international long-course debut, she earned five relay gold medals.

The perseverance award went to 32-year-old backstroker Matt Grevers.

The 2012 Olympic 100m back champion just missed earning a spot at the Rio Games with a third-place finish at trials. He bounced back in a big way, winning four medals in Budapest, including silver in the 100m back and two relay golds.

Greg Meehan of Stanford, who guided the U.S. women’s team in Budapest, was honored as coach of the year.

The women’s 4x100m medley relay earned relay performance of the year.

Kathleen Baker, King, Kelsi Worrell and Simone Manuel set a world record of 3 minutes, 51.55 seconds while finishing nearly two seconds ahead of second-place Russia.

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MORE: Ledecky wins race by 54 seconds, breaks record

Michael Phelps tribute at Golden Goggles (video)

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NEW YORK — Michael Phelps looked out into a Times Square hotel ballroom, filled with many athletes whom he inspired, and delivered an acceptance speech for an award honoring his impact on swimming.

The 23-time Olympic champion held a smartphone in his right hand and occasionally peered at it as he again thanked the most important people in his life. His voiced cracked.

Phelps reflected, again, on his stated goal when he turned professional at age 16 in 2001: to change the sport of swimming.

He saw a room full of swimmers at the Golden Goggle Awards. The annual event debuted in 2004, shortly after Phelps won his first eight medals in Athens and three years before the iPhone.

“We’ve done it, look at this,” Phelps said. “2000, this never would have happened. 1996, never would have happened.”

Phelps won three Golden Goggle Awards on Monday night. He acknowledged that they would be his final three, but that stated goal from 16 year ago remains.

“There’s a lot more change that can be done to make this even bigger,” Phelps said not of the awards show but of the sport’s growth. “I’m so excited and looking forward to that opportunity.”

Former NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol presented the Impact award to Phelps.

Ebersol acknowledged four people who impacted Phelps’ life — mother Debbie Phelps, coach Bob Bowman, agent Peter Carlisle and wife Nicole Phelps.

“I was lucky enough at the forefront of American media covering the Olympics, from the mid-’90s until almost London, and if there was one person that defined that entire era, it was Michael,” Ebersol said. “We followed him from the time he was a 15-year-old in Sydney, on and on through the incredible performance in Athens to the miraculous performance in [Beijing] to the, really, mind-boggling thing of him, probably only half-prepared, still winning gold medals in London and then the glorious finish to the greatest career in Olympic history by any athlete in Rio.

“Michael’s whole run was something that everybody in America got to share.”

Before Phelps exited the stage one last time, he offered these final words:

“I will always be here. Anything you guys ever need, please, let me know, if I can ever help.”

MORE: Phelps makes retirement official