USA Basketball has a long history of bringing some of the best players in the world together which leads to them taking on different roles than they would on their NBA teams. Back in the 2008 Olympics, Dwyane Wade was the leading scorer despite coming off the bench behind Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, and for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, head coach Steve Kerr envisioned a similar role for Anthony Edwards.
Edwards is one of the NBA’s rising stars and has emerged as the alpha dog on this Team USA roster and was the leading scorer through their exhibition slate of games. But he could have been in a Sixth Man role had Kerr had his way initially.
Edwards spoke to Joe Vardon of The Athletic and revealed that when he first spoke with Kerr, Team USA’s head coach mentioned a reserve role to Edwards similar to that of Wade behind Kobe. But Edwards simply responded that this roster doesn’t have anyone at the level of the Lakers legend:
On Thursday, Edwards said Kerr had called him before the start of camp and “he was telling me about coming off the bench.
“I mean, of course I wasn’t cool with it,” Edwards said. “If that’s what it takes, I mean, I am willing to do it, but nah, I’m never cool with that. … He said Dwyane Wade came off the bench when Kobe played. I was like, all right, we don’t have a Kobe, but all right. But it was cool.”
In 2008 Kobe Bryant was clearly the best player in basketball and all of the other stars like Wade, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony fell in line behind the Lakers legend. But Edwards is completely right in that there is no player close to the level of Kobe on this World Cup team. In fact, he is one of only three All-Stars on this team.
Edwards would have no issues with whatever role Kerr needed for him to take for Team USA. Not only is there no Kobe on the Team where he should feel comfortable in a reserve role, but if there is one person most suited to take on that Kobe Bryant role, it is Anthony Edwards himself.
Anthony Edwards names Lakers legends Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal in all-time starting 5
Anthony Edwards clearly views the Lakers legend in high regard as Kobe Bryant was one of two Lakers named in the Timberwolves star’s all-time starting five.
Edwards immediately named Kobe, Shaquille O’Neal and Michael Jordan to his starting five before finishing it off with Allen Iverson and Kevin Durant.