The United States won 3 straight gold medals in Olympic basketball in 2008, 2012 and 2016, and now they are looking for their 4th consecutive gold medal.
The late Laker legend Kobe Bryant contributed to two of those gold medals in 2008 and 2012. And between those two Olympics, Kobe won two more of his championships in 2009 and 2010.
It was a terrific winning streak for the Black Mamba as he was at the height of his career.
Let’s take a closer look at Kobe’s contributions while representing the United States at the Olympics.
2008 // Beijing
In 2008, Kobe Bryant was coming off his NBA MVP season and had just made it to the NBA Finals, where he lost to the Celtics. Going to Beijing, he was very motivated to show what he had as the best player in the world. After only a bronze medal in 2004, the American team called “Redeem Team” was on a mission to get the United States back to the top where it should be. Led by Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and company, they finished 8-0 to win the gold medal.
Kobe finished the tournament averaging 15.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals in 23.5 minutes per game. The most memorable game would be the gold medal game. Team USA was only 2 up with about 8 minutes left in the game and then Kobe just took over to lead them to the title. Probably his most iconic Olympic moment came in that game, where he hit a free-kick and then got up for a three-pointer against Spaniard Rudy Fernandez. He scored 13 points in the last quarter alone, along with 3 assists and some crucial blocks to help secure the 118-107 win over 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 memorable as he helped the United States dominate the competition and ultimately lead the team back to gold.
2012 // London
Between the 2008 and 2012 games, Kobe Bryant added more material to his collection as he won his fourth and fifth NBA titles in 2009 and 2010. Going into the London games, he was determined to return back to back to the Olympics and get another gold medal for the United States.
This team, which has been widely regarded as America’s best 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. some. This powerful team also went 8-0 to win the gold medal in London.
The Black Mamba declared the London Games to be his last Olympics, and he did not disappoint. This time, he’s averaging 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 a 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 semi-finals by leading the team and making the right decisions. In the end, their 17 points proved crucial in the gold medal game as they only beat Spain by 7, with a final score of 107-100 to seal 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 continued to win.
Let’s hope Team USA continues their winning legacy and earns another gold medal at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
Featured Image: AP Photo/Dusan Vranic