One of the most common questions that Kobe Bryant heard this summer during his time with Team USA was about being the elder statesman, or "O.G.", of the group. Bryant's mentor role with the 2008 team was one of the most talked about storylines prior to the Beijing Olympics and several of the players on that squad, from LeBron James to Carlos Boozer, talked about how much they learned simply by watching how Kobe prepared himself to play. Bryant frequently said this summer that he was done giving tips, though, pointing out that LeBron clearly didn't need anymore help.
Even though he said that he'd be keeping his secrets closer to his vest, the players that Bryant spent the most time around before, during and after practices were the youthful trio from Oklahoma City. Kobe may not have been giving them a peek inside of his bag of tricks, but there was clearly a relationship budding between the Western Conference rivals. It was something that caught me off guard, but as it turned out, virtually every bit of bad blood you might think these guys would have for each other was thrown out the window this summer. Those 12 players really came together under Coach K and their chemistry was the main reason they withstood Spain's comeback attempt in the gold medal game.
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