Kobe Bryant is a once in a lifetime type of competitor, so much so, that maybe only Michael Jordan could be considered his peer.
Back in 2004, the United States men's basketball team endured one of its lowest points since it began competing at the Olympics.
Since the 1992 'Dream Team' where professional players were first allowed to represent the U.S., the Stars and Stripes had always struck gold.
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They could only garner a bronze at Athens 2004, but four years later in Beijing, Kobe would change the perception of Team USA on the court forever.
USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo credited Bryant for playing “a very large part” in revamping the program’s culture after their dissapointment 12 years ago.
“His work ethic, approach and how he appreciates the game is infectious,” Team USA forward Kevin Durant said. “He’s someone that loves to play so much. He’s competitive when he steps in between those lines. He wants perfection.”
Bryant is a well-known work-a-holic and his all-hours workouts astounded Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh, especially considering that Bryant had just concluded an NBA Finals loss to Boston in 2008 only weeks beforehand.
“I thought I was working hard,” Bosh said. “Now I have to get back into the gym.”
After training for three weeks together before heading to Beijing, former U.S. Olympic and L.A. Lakers teammate Carlos Boozer noticed the entire team had adopted Bryant’s routine.
“We all clung to it,” said Boozer, who has recently agreed to a deal to play in China. “It soon became our workout, not just his workout.”
The team took on Kobe's killer instincts and impressive work rate to rebuild their dynasty and sit atop of the basketball world once again.
Team USA are currently 4-0 at the Rio Olympics and vying for a gold medal without some time-tested leaders like Bryant and Lebron James. Can they channel their inner-Kobe for the gold?