Coach K’s fantastic anecdote about how Kobe Bryant changed Team USA

Kobe Bryant

Mike Krzyzweski knew Kobe Bryant well. The two legends, one on the bench and the other on the court, were well treated and coincided in the U.S. national team, in an effort to end a period of darkness for the Americans, with poor international results. In a talk on JJ Redick’s podcast, « Old Man And Three, » Coach K shared an anecdote about his relationship with Bryant.


« One of the best anecdotes was when we started creating a culture [on the national team]. There was Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups and him to add veteran leadership to LeBron, Carmelo and all these great guys, we were getting ready for the Beijing Games. I arrived with my assistants a few days before the team arrived. Suddenly, there was a knock on my door, two days before the team was scheduled to arrive. It was Kobe Bryant.

He asked me if he could talk to me for a moment, I said yes and asked him what he wanted. He told me he wanted to ask me a favor, that he wanted to defend the best perimeter player of every opponent we played against. He was the best scorer in the NBA at the time. And the best player in the league, he had seven 50-point games that year . But he knew he had to change a little bit there and act like a leader. He told me that, that he wanted to defend the best rival perimeter every time. Then he stopped … and his eyes, he and Jordan had the same look. They killed you with their eyes. He leaned over to me and said, ‘Coach, I promise I’ll destroy them.’

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Then we had a team meeting and I remember in the first practice he didn’t take a single shot in the basket. He only focused on defense. Then we had a conversation and he told me ‘I promised you I would destroy on defense,’ but I told him I had also seen him destroy rivals from his offense, that he could shoot too. He smiled and told me he was the first coach in his life to ask him to shoot.

He was ahead of the game. I knew that to win gold there, we would have to beat Argentina , whether in the semifinals or finals. And he wanted to mark Ginobili. He had already thought about it and was going to prepare to defend Ginobili. It wasn’t just to set an example for others, but he had that vision. We finally played Argentina in the semifinals, we won by 20 points and Ginobili got hurt. Anyone would think then that we would win by 40, but they came within six points…because he was no longer interested in the challenge. That’s the way he was. I loved him. He and LeBron built a relationship that was necessary to create this culture . And I’m very proud of that. »

The message, with video and captioned by Juan Ferré. In two parts:


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