Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant accumulated every accolade there is as an NBA player throughout the course of his career, but perhaps what he took the most pride in is winning two Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012 as a member of Team USA.
As someone who traveled the globe throughout his life, Bryant understood the importance of representing his country on the international stage and was a big reason for the Redeem Team in 2008 returning USA to greatness after winning the bronze medal in 2004.
One of Bryant’s teammates on Team USA in 2012, Kevin Durant, is one of just two remaining players that are still playing for the team in this year’s Tokyo Olympics along with Kevin Love.
Durant and Bryant were close friends due to their time together during the Olympics, and Durant recently discussed what this year’s team can take away from the Lakers legend, via The 3 Point Conversion:
“Kobe Bryant is a guy that all of us looked up to and watched as kids and even when he was alive and playing, his DNA was embedded in us as players. He kind of from afar taught us what the game is about, what work ethic is about and we all kind of pulled from him when he was playing and when he was alive. And now that he’s not with us no more, we all want to honor his teaching by going out there and playing with that passion, with that energy every single play and guys that had close relationships with him understand how he would approach every single day, especially with Team USA. He really took pride in being a part of this group and a part of this team and we all feed off that type of energy. Kobe always wanted that, so he’s always big to every one of us here. We miss him, we miss him dearly because he would be in here supporting us.”
While this year’s Team USA is missing a number of its best players like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard and others, they still have a team that’s more than capable of bringing home the gold in Tokyo.
They will be led by Durant, who was joined by Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Jayson Tatum and Bam Adebayo in the starting lineup for head coach Gregg Popovich in the team’s first exhibition game. Team USA is also still waiting on Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, who are all still playing in the NBA Finals.
Team USA has five exhibition games before heading over to Tokyo later this month though, so they will have time to join once the Finals are over.
USA loses exhibition opener to Nigeria
If this year’s Olympic team wants to honor Bryant’s legacy, then they didn’t get off to the best start on Saturday night as they fell to Nigeria, 90-87, in their first exhibition game.
The team hasn’t had much practice time together so there is no real reason for concern yet, but they will certainly need to play better if they want to bring home gold in Tokyo.
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