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USA Mamba: Looking Back at Kobe’s USA Olympic Basketball Career

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The United States has won 3 straight gold medals in Olympic Basketball in 2008, 2012, and 2016, and now they’re looking for their 4th straight gold medal.

The late Laker legend Kobe Bryant contributed to two of those gold medals back in 2008 and 2012. And in between those two Olympic Games, Kobe won two more of his championships in 2009 and 2010

That was a tremendous winning streak for the Black Mamba as he was at the very peak of his career.

Let’s take a closer look at Kobe’s contributions when representing the US at the Olympics. 

2008 // Beijing 

In 2008, Kobe Bryant was coming off his MVP season in the NBA and fresh off an NBA Finals appearance, where he lost to the Celtics. Going to Beijing, he was very much motivated to showcase what he got as the best player in the world. Following only a bronze medal finish in 2004, the USA team called the ‘Redeem Team’ was on a mission to bring the US back on top where they should be. Led by Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and company, they finished with an 8-0 record to claim the gold medal.

Kobe finished the tournament with averages of 15.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals in 23.5 minutes per game. The most memorable game would come in the gold medal match. Team USA was only up 2 with around 8 mins left in the game, then Kobe just took over to lead them to the title. Probably his most iconic Olympic moment came in this game, where he hit a jab step, then rose for an and-one three-pointer against Spain’s Rudy Fernandez. He scored 13 points in the final quarter alone, along with 3 assists and a couple of crucial blocks to help secure the 118-107 win over his Laker teammate Pau Gasol and Spain. Surely one of his signature clutch performances and one of the greatest international basketball games of all time. 

Kobe Bryant’s first Olympic appearance was a very memorable one as he helped the US dominate the competition and ultimately led the team back to the gold.


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2012 // London 

Photo: AP Photo/Dusan Vranic

In between the 2008 and 2012 games, Kobe Bryant added more hardware to his collection as he claimed his fourth and fifth NBA titles in 2009 and 2010. Going into the London games, he was determined to go back-to-back in the Olympics and get another gold medal for the USA.

This team, which has been widely considered the best USA team since the 1992 Dream Team, was led by so many superstars and now MVP winners like Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, and Chris Paul – to name a few. This powerhouse team also went 8-0 to claim the gold medal in London.

The Black Mamba said that the London games would be his last Olympic games, and he did not disappoint. This time, he averaged 12.1 points, 1.8 rebounds. 1.3 assists, 1.1 steals, in 17.3 minutes per game. He had many highlights in London, but one memorable one would be his 20 second-half points against Australia, including four consecutive three-pointers. He also used his veteran leadership against Argentina in the semis by leading the team and making the right decisions. Ultimately, his 17 points proved crucial in the gold medal match as they only beat Spain by 7, with a final score of 107-100 to seal the Olympic gold. 

Kobe Bryant ended his Olympic career with an immaculate 16-0 record and 2 gold medals. The Black Mamba did Black Mamba things in the Olympics as he just kept winning.
Hopefully, Team USA continues its winning legacy and gets another gold medal this coming Olympics in Tokyo.

Featured Image: AP Photo/Dusan Vranic
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