It has been just over three months since Kobe Bryant took the floor for his last game of his illustrious NBA career, but it hasn’t stopped the United States men’s national basketball team head coach Mike Krzyzewski from talking about his impact on the game.
Bryant was a major part of the 2008 Team USA squad that was dubbed the “redeem” team after falling short of a gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics. According to Lakers.com’s Joey Ramirez, the 18-time All-Star was the driving force that helped bring them back on top in international competition.
“He was the alpha dog during ’08,” Krzyzewski said. “And we had a lot of other aspiring alpha dogs: LeBron, Carmelo and those guys. So how do you get that era and this era together? They did.
“And then in London, you start adding (Kevin Durant) and (Russell) Westbrook. Now you have three eras of alpha dogs, and they got it together. But Kobe set an example for that. He’s smart. Really smart and good. I love him.”
Bryant set the tone for Team USA for years to come while on two gold medal teams in 2008 and 2012. This helped make the country once again the singular powerhouse in international basketball over the last eight years that includes winning both FIBA World Cups in 2010 and 2014.
It’s clear that the five-time NBA championship had a major influence on Team USA, which is a testament to the tremendous impact he made on the game over his 20-year professional basketball career.