12 years ago, USA Basketball sent a star-studded team to Beijing to recover the protagonism Team USA had lost at an international level in prior years. After two disappointing campaigns in the 2004 Olympic Games and the 2006 FIBA World Cup, it was time to demonstrate that Team USA wasn’t done and they still ruled basketball.
They sent a very good group of players to China to represent the country and bring the gold medal and nothing else. That team had a lot of great players, but their leader was a guy that knew how to compete and made everyone around him a better competitor. Kobe Bryant was in charge of taking that team to the promised land and he instantly set the tone for everyone else.
Chris Bosh was part of that team and he remembers all the dedication Kobe had during those games, demonstrating that his work ethic was unmatched, even though he just played in the Finals in the prior NBA season.
“Not only was he [Bryant] the first one to breakfast, but he also had ice bags on his knees, which meant he’d already worked out. Mind you, this was less than two weeks after the Lakers lost in the Finals to the Celtics,” Bosh said.
Kobe was an inspiration for that team, who joined him in his routine, which ultimately took them to win the gold.
“The dude was pushing himself harder than any human being I had ever met – waking up at 4 AM to hit the gym. That meant all of us were gonna push ourselves, too,” Bosh added.
“By the second week, we all joined him during his routine and we called ourselves ‘the Breakfast Club’. We avenged that loss in 2004. We won the gold because of Kobe,” Carlos Boozer revealed.
The fact that he was surrounded by all these stars, players that have good careers in the NBA and were seen as the future faces of the league and he was still able to set an example, to make them follow him and his rhythm, that’s what makes Kobe Bryant such a special player.
He had one job, taking that team to win the gold and he did so in a great way.