Epic Kobe Bryant-Pau Gasol story revealed in ‘The Redeem Team’ clip originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol were teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers and very close friends off the court.
But their tight bond was temporarily put aside during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Bryant was playing for a highly motivated Team USA, which was coming off an embarrassing bronze medal finish at the 2004 Games, while Gasol was competing for Spain, which was seen as the Redeem Team’s biggest threat for gold.
When the United States and Spain first squared off during group play, the two Lakers teammates were involved in an early physical encounter. Bryant ran into a screen-setting Gasol in the opening moments of the game, knocking the big man to the ground.
And it turns out the hard defensive foul from Bryant wasn’t unintentional.
In a clip of the upcoming Netflix documentary “The Redeem Team”, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade revealed that Bryant actually planned to run over Gasol as a tone-setting play.
Warning: The video below contains NSFW language.
LeBron James: “Kobe said he was gonna set the tone to the start of the game and he said, ‘I’m running through Pau’s f***ing chest.'”
Dwyane Wade: “‘First play of the game I’m running through Pau Gasol.’ And we was like, ‘What?'”
LeBron James: “Man, you trippin’. Man, that’s your teammate. You ain’t about to do that.”
Dwyane Wade: “He said, ‘First play of the game, I know what they’re gonna run.’ And he knew Pau was gonna be the last screen and he said ‘I’m running through that motherf***er.'”
LeBron James: “I swear, the first play of the game [he did it]. We was like, ‘Holy s***!'”
Pau Gasol: “He just went right to the middle of my chest, tried to get right through me to send a message, not just to me, but to his teammates, to say ‘Hey, this might be my brother, I play with him, we’re close, but I don’t care about anything else but winning.'”
Carmelo Anthony: “He was like, ‘Nah, he ain’t my teammate right now. F*** him. Get up.’ I’m like, ‘I love this energy. This is what we need.'”
LeBron James: “We was like, ‘He did that to his teammate? Oh my god.’ We was like, “Oh, ain’t no way we losing this game. We about to beat the s*** out of Spain.'”
Gasol added that Bryant paid him and his teammates a visit before the game, a move Gasol believes might have been part of Bryant’s “strategy to soften me up.” Just another story that shows how Bryant was an ultimate competitor.
James proved to be right, too: the Americans did go on to demolish Spain following Bryant’s hard foul in a 119-82 rout. They then defeated the Spaniards again in the championship game by a score of 118-107 to recapture gold.
While Bryant took a championship away from Gasol in the 2008 Olympics, the two combined to lead the Lakers to the first of back-to-back Larry O’Brien Trophies the following NBA season.
“The Redeem Team” will be released on Friday, Oct. 7.