OC Register Blog
: Kobe Bryant, joined the rest of the USA National team members for a media session in Las Vegas, where the team gathered for a weekend of practice.What do you think of this summer’s competition?
When you start dealing with the teams that have been together awhile, that have played together internationally. They’re not afraid or intimidated. They think they can beat us, they think they should beat us and that’s when the game gets real fun. What kind of expectation do you have for Beijing this summer?
We just want to play well. We want to play the right way. Our goal obviously is to win the gold medal as it is for all the other teams. We’re going to give it our best effort.Do you feel a little more pressure since the USA hasn’t won a gold since 2000?
Yes, I think there’s naturally more pressure. But for us it’s actually a relaxing situation because we’d rather have the responsibility of bringing this home as opposed to sitting there biting our nails just hoping that we win the gold medal. This is a great opportunity for us, we’re very excited about it.The NBA game can be more of an individual game, there’s a lot more one-on-one, whereas the international game has more of a team concept. How do you transition to that?
We just move the ball. We move the ball extremely well, get out in the open floor, we execute well. That’s what it takes. Winning an NBA championship and winning an international gold medal isn’t that different. The rules still apply. You have to play as a team, you have to be great defensively and you have to rebound.Who do you see as some of the USA’s top opponents?
Everybody’s a top opponent. But you have to go with the defending champion Argentina because they’re the champs. They’ll be Olympic champions until somebody knocks them off.What would it mean for you to win an Olympic gold medal?
It would be the most special thing to happen in my career. Winning an NBA championship is incredible. But you’re playing for a particular market. With a gold medal you’re playing for your country. I don’t think there’s any greater honor as a professional athlete that you can have.What was practice like today?
It was a good first day today, get up and down the floor, get loose and pick up some of the rhythm where we left off last summer. It was a first good step.What is on your mind, what is the goal in China?
We just want to get better right now, get better every day. The goal? A gold medal, just like everybody else. Everybody else has that same goal, the same focus, and we are certainly no different.Is this a special time for you? You have accomplished so much, but the Olympics are new.
I am very thankful for the opportunity to be on this team. It is a tremendous honor, to win an NBA championship is one thing, but to play for your country is something completely different. I am very, very fortunate to be here and I am looking forward to it,Is defense going to be the key?
No question. Defense and rebounding wins championships, whether it’s the Olympics or the NBA. There’s a lot of emphasis on that.How did Wade look out there?
He looked good. I had a chance to talk with him yesterday when we were working out and he said this is the healthiest he has been in a couple of years.On the makeup of the team:
We have incredible athletes on this team, who are very capable defensive players. We have a lot of athleticism on the wing and we can use that to our advantage, pressuring teams and bait them into situations where they turn over the ball. We want to use that speed and athleticism to our advantage.What is it like to play for Coach K?
It’s everything that I thought it would be, and more. When I was in high school, he was my number one choice, but I had to wait about 11 years or so to play for him. He is a great guy and an incredible coach. I’ve learned a lot from him already. He has a passion for the game, a respect for his players and above all else, he wants to see his players play well. And he wants to win. He communicates that beautifully to his players. He’s very clear on what he wants.