Kobe Bryant Day: Appreciating Kobe, the Olympian


Remembering Kobe Bryant and his adventures with Team USA in the Olympics

The Los Angeles Lakers are obviously the first team that comes to mind when discussing NBA great Kobe Bryant, but they weren’t the only team featuring the Black Mamba. In both 2008 and 2012, Bryant traded in the Purple and Gold of the Lakers for the Red, White, and Blue of Team USA at the Olympics. Kobe was a major factor in both 2008 and 2012 in helping Team USA avenge their embarrassing bronze finish in 2004.

Kobe played at an elite level at the 2008 Beijing Games following his lone MVP-winning season. However, he got off to a rough start at the 2012 Olympics in London, scoring just 14 points combined in the first two games. That included only netting four points in the second game of group play against Tunisia.

While Bryant struggled early on in the tournament, it didn’t last long. Kobe hit his stride in the third game against Nigeria. He poured in 16 points, despite only seeing 11 minutes of playing time. His highest total came in the quarterfinals against Australia, where he scored 20 points, including six made threes.

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However, the most memorable part of the games came in the gold medal game against Spain. The Kobe-led Americans defeated Spain, led by his friend and Laker teammate Pau Gasol, in dramatic fashion. Heading into the fourth quarter, the USA led by just one point, which did not sit well with Kobe. Bryant stepped up in the clutch and helped hold the Spaniards to just 18 points collectively in the final quarter. Team USA would end up winning 107-100.

The 2016 Olympics ended with the Americans repeating as gold medalists in basketball. Yet it wasn’t as fun or enjoyable without Bryant on the court. The team didn’t have an undisputed leader or go-to guy to give the ball to in close situations. As a result, there were more close situations than American fans are accustomed to. That’s simply to say that no one provides the mentality or ferocity that Kobe did. He will truly be missed every time the USA steps on the court.

Kobe Bryant, the Laker, has been rightfully honored. It’s his time with the Lakers that is the reason why we have celebrated him today. However, it would be nothing short of a travesty if we did not acknowledge his international contributions. Thank you, Kobe Bryant, American Olympian.