Once you make it to the NBA, you’ve got to figure out how to stay there. Depending on the situation you’re drafted into, the coach you’re playing for and teammates you’re playing with, some guys have it harder than others. Usually, though, if the talent is there, an opportunity will come. Former Tar Heel Rashad McCants didn’t quite get the opportunity he was hoping for, but he’s not holding his breath. That is, he’s not holding his breath unless Kobe Bryant plans to come knocking on his door.

That’s right. Over the weekend, McCants caught up with Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe to talk about how he’s been living since his days in the NBA have passed. Unlike current NBAers who are wondering when the lockout will end and if they’ll be feeling a strain on their wallets, McCants says he is developing his own company and is getting to be creative, not having to think in “a one-dimensional box” like he did when he was in the league.

McCants also said he was happy with where he is today, and it sounds like he is at peace with how things shook out with respect to his career as a professional athlete. His take was an interesting one, especially when he said what it would take to get him back to playing pro basketball. Here’s more from Washburn’s conversation with McCants:

“I’m not bitter about anything. My NBA lifestyle was amazing. I don’t take anything back. I am grateful for the NBA for putting me in the position I am in now.’’

The NBA may have seen the last of Rashad McCants, unless he is allowed to return under one condition.

“The only way I would come back to the league is if I get to play with Kobe Bryant,’’ he said. “There’s nobody who thinks like me but Kobe Bryant. I just get criticized for what he used to get criticized for because I tried to establish myself the same way he did.

“I was just on a bad team.’’

McCants’ stance on only returning to the NBA if he’s playing alongside Bryant makes me wonder just how many players and/or free agents are in touch with the five-time NBA champ during the offseason. It worked for Matt Barnes and Ron Artest. Who will be the next guy to go to L.A. to work with Kobe? I’d like it to be Raja Bell. Who gets your vote?

As for McCants, whether we ever see him in an NBA uniform or not, it’s nice to know that former pro athletes can find happiness in other endeavors even when their hoop dreams didn’t turn out as they might have expected or hoped.