Kobe Bryant was an absolute animal on the court, and he became that animal through years and years of practicing the game of basketball. Kobe is known to have one of the greatest work ethics in the history of the game, preaching his vaunted 'Mamba Mentality' to fellow players and youngsters he was mentoring.
While he was still playing in the NBA but falling out of his prime, he was a part of the 2012 Olympic team, which many consider to be one of the greatest of all time. The team featured the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and more. It also featured Kobe, who sent a message to the younger players on the team by putting himself through a hellacious workout.
"I remember the young guys like Blake and Kevin were all giddy 'did you hear what he's (Kobe) doing? He is on a 40-mile bike ride'. Kobe wanted that out there because he wanted to send a message, 'I know you guys may think I am old and we haven't made the Finals in the past seasons, but while you're in the pool, I am going to go for a 40-mile bike ride in 140 degree heat and I am going to come to practice tomorrow and be the first guy on the floor.' It's just to put that in their head. That's just how crazy he was."
Kobe Bryant Never Took Time Off His Game
Everybody knows how hard Kobe worked in the gym to perfect his craft. His habits and constant preaching of it has instilled an important lesson in the next generation of basketball players, as everyone understands the value of pushing oneself to reach a goal.
Bryant may have started to lose his position as a top player in the NBA from 2012 onwards, but he made sure everyone knew that he was still outworking them despite being over 15 years into his NBA career. That hard work that Kobe put late into his career allowed him to return from an Achilles injury and have a retirement season in 2016, 20 years after he entered the NBA.
Kobe averaged 12.1 points, 1.3 assists, and 1.8 rebounds in the Olympics, taking a backseat to the likes of LeBron, Durant, and Carmelo Anthony. Regardless, his veteran presence was crucial for the US Team that summer to bring home the Gold medal.