Kobe Bryant was built for this.
The reigning MVP of the NBA takes center stage at the Beijing Olympics. Now, all he has to do is play like the best basketball player in the world and lead Team USA to the gold-medal stand.
Kobe would probably say, “no problem.”
The U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team looked impressive in last year’s Tournament of the Americas. They have looked unbeatable in five Olympic exhibition games. Dwyane Wade looks like the old D-Wade. LeBron James is in midseason form. And the three-headed monster at point guard in Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Deron Williams seems to be working.
The Americans claim it is fully committed to team play and no one is above the team.
But somewhere down the road in Beijing, when pool competition ends and single-elimination medal round begins, there will come a time when Team USA will find itself leaning on Bryant to win a ballgame. It may come against Greece. It may happen against Argentina. It will definitely be needed against defending world champion Spain, which boasts a starting lineup of five NBA players.
In order for the United States to beat the best in the world, Kobe Bryant needs to play like an MVP. He knows it and he understands it. Remember, Kobe spent much of his childhood in Italy so he knows the European game and the passion of international competition. He’s probably more European than American. He plays with a cut-throat Euroleague mentality with a blacktop game to complement it.
No matter how much Team USA claims it has 12 go-to guys all playing as one, in reality, it has one true go-to guy when the stakes are at its highest. When Coach Mike Krzyzewski goes to his ace card, he will call upon the man wearing jersey No. 10 to deliver in crunch time.