Watch Kobe Bryant close the LA 2024 Olympic bid presentation to IOC

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LA 2024 turned to one of the most clutch athletes in Los Angeles history as the final voice in its bid presentation to the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday.

That would be retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and double Olympic gold medalist.

Bryant was not with the bid presentation team in Lausanne, but he starred in the final pre-recorded video shown to IOC members during a 50-minute presentation.

IOC members later voted unanimously to approve awarding the 2024 and 2028 Olympics to LA and Paris later this summer, should the IOC and both cities come to an agreement on who hosts in which year.

“There are so many different cultures represented here, so many different ethnicities represented here. LA can be anything you want it to be,” Bryant said to open a two-minute video, adding later, “It’s an opportunity to learn no matter where you look.”

And then, Bryant’s final words as the video closed and IOC members began applauding: “To have the Olympics here and to have so many different cultures represented would be a beautiful story to tell.”

Bryant joined the LA 2024 Board of Directors and Athletes’ Advisory Committee two weeks ago. He had previously participated in LA 2024 promotional videos more than one year ago.

The last U.S. Olympic bid, Chicago for 2016, flew in President Barack Obama as its closer at an IOC session in Copenhagen in 2009 (video here). Chicago was eliminated that day in the first round of voting among four finalist cities. Rio eventually won.

Granted, Tuesday was under different circumstances as IOC members were not yet voting on which city gets the 2024 Olympics. They may not vote at all as LA, Paris and the IOC are due to negotiate to determine if one city is willing to bow out for 2024 and take the 2028 Games.

Paris 2024’s final speaker in its presentation Tuesday was triple Olympic canoe champion Tony Estanguet, a co-bid leader. French President Emmanuel Macron spoke immediately before Estanguet.

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MORE: Dr. Dre joins LA 2024

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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