With Kobe Bryant preparing to team up with LeBron James and the rest of the NBA elites in London later this month for the Olympics, players who usually find themselves up against one another are suddenly on the same team.
Bryant and James, who have been widely regarded as the best players in the league for the majority of the last decade, have been constantly compared and contrasted. After James won his first championship this last season, he was finally able to get over the hump and into the champions club, where Bryant is a long-time member.
When asked by Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated whether or not Bryant would remind James of the championship tally during their time with Team USA this summer, Kobe’s answer wasn’t surprising.
“Yeah, I mean, since the last time we were here I got two,” said Bryant, extending the vowel the way Jordan extended his fingertips after making his last championship shot in Utah. He let the “two” hang out there without rushing onto the next sentence. “Dirk got one. He (James) got one.”
Has Bryant reminded James of the championship score?
“Not yet,” he said. “I will. I will.”
Always the competitor, Bryant isn’t about to let James and the younger players take his place on the top of the mountain without a fight. Bryant is one of the oldest players on the current roster, and isn’t at the level he was back in 2008, but that won’t stop him from pushing his younger teammates as much as he can during their quest for the Gold in London.
The story itself is very reminiscent of the 1992 Dream Team, where another Laker, Magic Johnson, had to pass the torch to a younger Michael Jordan, who had established himself as the best player in the league. Bryant may not be what he once was, but you better believe he’s not giving James, Durant, or anyone else an inch. They will have to take it from him.