The Difference for Team USA Was Kobe BryantI'll be posting my final report card for Team USA's gold medal performance soon. Meanwhile, check out these two quotes about Kobe Bryant's importance to Team USA:
The L.A. Times' Mark Heisler writes:
In its stunning loss to Greece in 2006, the young U.S. players broke down completely on defense as the Greeks scored on pick-and-roll after pick-and-roll. In the very first play of last summer's Tournament of the Americas, Bryant tipped the ball away from the Venezuela point guard, dived on the court trying to get it, got back up, stole the next pass and started a fastbreak. They've defended like banshees ever since. "That's the clip Coach K [Coach Mike Krzyzewski] always uses, Kobe diving on the floor," says U.S. scout Tony Ronzone. "You're talking about an MVP player in the NBA who just made a statement to USA basketball...And what that did is it took our defense to another level. What you're seeing is something that started last summer in Las Vegas, which is amazing."
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski declares:
Once Kobe Bryant let that Shaq rap go, he wished that he had resisted responding to so much else throughout his tumultuous 20s...As Kobe reshapes his image here with American flags, Jordanesque ferocity and the warm, welcoming touch of a grateful guest, O’Neal is back in the United States facing a restraining order for allegations of stalking an Atlanta woman after several disturbing e-mails and phone threats surfaced. The old images of the brooding, immature Kobe and the gregarious, life-of-the-championship-party Shaq have turned inside out. Somehow, Kobe’s become the grownup and Shaq the screw-up...These Olympics have been the most remarkable three weeks of Kobe Bryant’s basketball life. He disdains the marketing "Redeem Team" title, calling it "kind of cheesy" because let’s face it: Those weren’t his international failures over the past eight years. Nike tried so hard to make LeBron James a co-star of these Games but failed miserably. He’s riding shotgun and doesn’t seem terribly thrilled about it. There’s no usurping Bryant in China. Bryant has won the respect of his teammates, but he doesn’t run in the big cliques on the team. LeBron is the ringleader of the young players, and Kobe goes his own way. He’s won his teammates over with his ferocity, his insatiable need to win, but no one ever gets close to Bryant. He’s a loner, but he learned to lead. When all hell was breaking loose in the semifinal victory over Argentina, it was Bryant working with Jason Kidd to bring his teammates back from the brink of losing composure. "We didn’t come to tussle," Bryant said. "We came to win a gold medal."
posted by David Friedman @ 5:02 AM