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Kobe Bryant ran through Pau Gasol’s chest just to send a message

Kobe Bryant wanted to set the tone from the first play, and it didn't matter if he had to pin down a close friend.
USA guard Kobe Bryant, Spain forward Pau Gasol

Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol

Kobe Bryant always took winning seriously, a well-documented fact about his career. While most athletes focus on their game, the team, and the team strategy, Bryant went a step ahead by playing mind games with his opponents. One such moment was revealed by Pau Gasol – from a snippet in Netflix’s Redeem Team – when he met Bryant before the finals of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

My big brother came to see me with my teammates, which everyone was like ‘Whoa, Kobe’s in our apartment, how cool!’ And I believe that might have been part of his strategy to kind of soften me up,” Gasol recollected.

Kobe & Pau shared a strong bond

Bryant and Gasol first became teammates during the 2007-08 season, when the latter was traded from the Memphis Grizzlies. Kobe, a multi-lingual person, immediately built a bond with the center – delivering a great one-two punch for the LA Lakers. So, it was understandably difficult for the two to face off against each other in the finals of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

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We’re very very tight, so it’s a little tough to compete against him,” Kobe said in an interview leading up to the finals.

Kobe Bryant knew he would not let his friendship with Gasol come in the way of him lifting the trophy for Team USA. But he wanted to make it crystal clear to everyone else.

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, saying: ’Hey, this might be my brother. I play with him, we’re close. But I don’t care about anything else but winning.’

Bryant’s action lit a fire in the arena, which led to a high-intensity back-and-forth game. Team USA came out on top (118-107), living up to the name ‘Redeem Team.’

Behind the scenes of USA Basketball’s gold medal in 2008

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have teamed up as executive producers to bring the story of the 2008 Team USA squad, which had high expectations. Team USA faced a shocking defeat four years earlier, losing against Argentina in the semifinals at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. Redeem team intended to reclaim the throne as the best basketball nation.

The documentary is set to release on Netflix on October 7, giving viewers a sneak peek into the dynamics of an assembled superstar team.

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