LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are considered two of the greatest players in NBA history. Both Kobe and LeBron were incredible players and had the ability to dominate a game on any given night.
Both players were also spectacular leaders and were tasked with leading Team USA in the 2008 Olympics. Both Kobe and LeBron were the leaders of the 'Redeem Team', but they actually had a conflict during camp.
During an interview with Adrian Wojnarowski, NBA insider Ian O'Connor explained why Kobe Bryant and LeBron James were clashing.
LeBron felt that Kobe was passing up decent passes for bad shots, and told Coach K, the head coach of Team USA, to speak to Kobe Bryant and hold him accountable. The discussion between Coach K and Kobe worked, and Team USA began working well together:
“It was Shanghai, they were playing their last preliminary game. Kobe started taking some Laker shots. Kobe started taking some BS shots. These were non-Team USA shots… LeBron passes Coach K on the way to the bench at some point in that Australia game. And he says ‘yo coach, you better fix that (motherf*cker). And everybody knew who he was talking about. So now Krzyzewski is like ‘I’m a college coach, I lost in ’06. The last thing in the world I want to do is confront Kobe Bryant on shot selection. But I have no choice… I’m holding the players accountable. Now LeBron James is holding me accountable. So now I have to act, he sort of tip-toed next to Kobe Bryant and says ‘hey, I need to talk to you in this side room over here’. And K breaks out a laptop. And on that laptop screen, he plays about 6-8 BS shots that Kobe took recently… He says ‘we cannot have this. You can do this with the Lakers, but you can’t do this when your teammates are LeBron James and Carmelo and Jason Kidd and Dwyane Wade. You can’t do that’. And Kobe looked at coach K and said okay coach, I won’t. And that was the end of it…Krzyzewski told LeBron, ‘hey, I had that conversation’. LeBron holds Coach K accountable. Coach K holds Kobe accountable. And Kobe bails out Team USA with some crazy shots for the gold medal.”
Coach K has been involved with Team USA for quite some time. He even spoke about his time with Team USA in 1992, when Michael Jordan led the Dream Team to success in Barcelona and helped them win the gold medal, noting that Jordan showed him a lot of respect despite the fact that he was a superstar and a 2-time NBA champion at the time.
Team USA was able to address their problems internally before the Olympics, and it allowed them to find success in Beijing, as they were able to win gold for the first time in years. And it was thanks to LeBron James holding Coach K accountable, and Coach K doing the same with Kobe Bryant.