What an incredible year for Kobe Bryant! First, an MVP season and now an Olympic Gold Medalist! Congrats!
The seven games leading to the finale came easy for the USA team, beating opponents by 30 points but Spain was on a personal mission to make the championship game a difficult task. Gasol and Fernandez played great. I still can't believe the dunk Fernandez put on Howard, OUCH! It was surreal to see Gasol and Kobe play against each other when just months ago they were teammates fighting for the NBA championship.
This games was indeed a difficult task for USA. The Spaniards were hitting 3 pointers, lobbying balls to Gasol for easy dunks, making great passes, I mean at one point I thought Coach K's dream team actually had a legit opportunity to lose this game when Spain came back to only be down by 2 in the fourth quarter.
As usual who steps up and seals games under pressure in fourth quarters? Yes my friends, Mr. Kobe Bryant! He was not only making big shots like he always does, he was dishing the ball to open teammates and late in the fourth quarter he executed a four point play by nailing a 3 pointer when getting fouled. It was nice to see Kobe play this well in a championship game and this time win! USA regains the gold after being embarrassed in 04.
I'll tell you, the Blazers need to give Rudy Fernandez some more playing time because this man plays with heart and has some serious skills.
This was not only an opportunity for Kobe to regain the gold for the US but also an opportunity to regain an image lost by unfavoring events, constant rubbish by haters who just can't get over the Shaq departure from the Lakers dream team and misconception of Kobe's game.
After losing against the Boston Celtics for the championship, both Pau and Kobe went straight to camp to prepare for Beijing. Not once did they look back in regret, not once did they demand to be traded, not once did they start rapping about past teammates. No, in fact, they moved forward. These are the types of things champions do, win or lose. They move forward.
The funny part about all of this Kobe vs Shaq and Kobe hater crap is that Kobe seems to be the only one capable of letting go of the past. He continues to play like a true champion not only here in the states but evidently around the world. Everyone keeps talking about what he does wrong and where he lacks but fail to see what he's accomplished.
I have to admit though, it's a little rewarding for me to read reports during the off season about Shaq getting a restraining order due to his stalking an Atlanta woman through emails and phone calls. This happening fresh off a bitter divorce does not look good for mister Shaq Diesel's image. Well Shaq, it seems that Kobe can do "alot without you".
Let me tell you one thing, after this experience in China with leadership-like performances by Kobe, the USA's multimillion dollar athletes playing together like college teammates trying to make it into the NBA dominating the world's elite and Kobe being welcomed by China with similar piercing-like roars given to Yao, you have to start believing that Kobe and the other NBA stars can put aside their egos and play with heart.