Kobe Bryant’s reaction to Jerry Colangelo telling him he may need to be the distributor for 2008 Olympic team
Jerry Colangelo sat down with Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant to gauge his interest in playing for Team USA back in 2006, just a few days after Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors.
Bryant was very interested in playing, but Colangelo told the Lakers icon: “We may need you to be the distributor.”
What happened next is classic Kobe stuff, per Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic:
“He wanted to in the worst way,” Jerry Colangelo said. “I put him on by saying, ‘Look, we may want you to do something else rather than score. We may need you to be the distributor.’ And he kind of looked at me funny and we smiled and he said, ‘I’ll do whatever you want. I just want to be part of it.'”
This was coming off the 2004 U.S. Olympic team winning just a bronze medal.
Four years later, Kobe Bryant joined LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony in leading the United States to a gold medal in 2008.
“We go to training camp in Vegas and he’s there two days early and is in the workout room at 5:30 in the morning working on his weights,” Colangelo recalls. “If you practice twice a day, that was his first workout before the two regular workouts. As players like Carmelo and LeBron, Wade and (Chris) Bosh and others, they saw that and they started going in that early. So he led by example.”
That 2008 USA team led by Kobe and LeBron James easily won the Gold medal.
Bryant then won two more NBA titles with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010, so it was a really good stretch for The Black Mamba.
Kobe was named a first-ballot Hall of Famer on Saturday. Sadly, fans won’t get to hear his speech, which probably would have been epic since everything Bryant did was. He finished his Lakers career with averages of 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists.
There have been so many great players who have had the privilege of playing for the Lakers. Kobe, though, was arguably the best and most popular Hall of Famer to don the Purple and Gold.