When USA men's basketball team head coach Mike Krzyzewski recruited Kobe Bryant to the Redeem Team, he wanted him to take on a leadership role. Before Bryant's arrival, team USA had just lost in the 2004 Athens Olympics as the team was filled with rising but young stars, namely LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony. Coach K knew that Bryant would change the team culture and immensely help them on the court.
Kobe Bryant inspired his teammates to work
It didn't take long for the Black Mamba to accept the leadership role, walk his talk and inspire his teammates. While the US men's team was partying in Las Vegas one night, Bryant decided not to join them because he wanted to go to the gym and lift weights instead. Bryant was up as early as 5:30 in the morning, just in time when the team arrived at the hotel after partying in Club Tryst.
"We came back to the hotel about 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning and guess who's in the lobby on his way to the gym? Kobe. We asked 'Where you going, bro?' He said 'I'm going to the gym'. As we're going in the elevator up to our rooms, we're like 'Did you hear that? We're all talking like this guy's really dedicated. Next thing you know, it goes from just Kobe at 5:30 in the morning to LeBron James and Dwayne Wade and by the end of the week, the whole team was getting up every morning and we're on Kobe's schedule," Carlos Boozer shared in the Redeem Team documentary.
This was the moment when James and Wade realized that Bryant was all about business and what it meant to sacrifice for the team's overall success.
"This motherf**er Kobe was already drenched in sweat. And we was like 'Yeah, he's different” James shared in the same documentary.
When two alpha dogs come together
Aside from Bryant, James also took on the leadership role for the Redeem Team. However, unlike Kobe, LeBron led the team by being the most vocal speaker on the team and was the one that used to gather the squad to come together on and off the court.
Coach K admitted that he had his concerns about the possibility of Bryant and James clashing heads, but ultimately, both alpha dogs came together and didn't care who the main leader was — they were just all about winning despite leading and approaching the team in very different ways.