It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly nine months since we lost the great Kobe Bryant. On the heels of the Lakers’ recent NBA title win, new tributes to and stories about the basketball legend have been brought forward, including a very interesting one from Duke’s Coach K.
Appearing on The Old Man & The Three podcast, Coach K recalled a story from the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. At the time, Coach K was the head coach of the United States’ men’s national team, and Kobe Bryant was the captain.
Coach K revealed that while Kobe was delighted to be on the Olympic squad, he didn’t want to be the top scorer. He said that Kobe told him he wanted to play defense against the best perimeter players from the other teams.
“(He said) ‘I want to guard the best perimeter player on every team that we play,'” Coach K said. “‘Coach, I promise you I’ll destroy him.'”
Kobe was a man of his word.
One of the league's perennial scorers just wanted to play D.
Mamba Mentality 🐍
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 19, 2020
At the 2008 Olympics, the United States trounced the competition, sweeping the 5-game group stage. They averaged 103 points per game while their opponents averaged less than 71.
In the first two rounds of the knockout stage, Kobe Bryant and the US team trounced Australia and Argentina before beating Spain to win the Final, giving him his first Olympic gold medal in the process.
Kobe’s determination to play defense proved useful as his Lakers went on to win two more NBA titles in the next two years. Then he won a second gold medal at the 2012 Olympics.
Now that’s the Mamba Mentality.