In 2012, Kobe Bryant's career was trending downwards as he was riding the last few years of his prime, but his work ethic and dedication to prove that he's still the best were unmatched.
Aside from claiming his 2nd gold medal in 2012, Bryant was also on a mission to send a message to LeBron James and Kevin Durant — two upcoming rising superstars who were set to take the torch as the best basketball player in the world from him that year.
Bryant's message was well sent
According to Hyperice's CEO Anthony Katz, Bryant sent out his message by going through the extreme lengths of biking under the 140-degree heat and showing up first to practice in the morning. Through his training regimen, this was the message Bryant wanted to send out, and it was well-received by the young superstars on the roster.
"I remember the young guys like Blake and Kevin were all giddy 'Did you hear what he's (Kobe) doing? He is on a 40-mile bike ride'. Kobe wanted that out there because he wanted to send a message, 'I know you guys may think I am old and we haven't made the Finals in the past seasons, but while you're in the pool, I am going to go for a 40-mile bike ride in 140-degree heat and I am going to come to practice tomorrow and be the first guy on the floor.' It's just to put that in their head. That's just how crazy he was," Katz said in his latest appearance on the My Other Passion podcast.
The torch was passed
Before the 2012 Olympics, Bryant and James were already battling for the "best player in the world" status. Despite never really facing each other in the NBA Finals, both players were hyped up by the media as the current faces of basketball. Durant came into the picture in 2014 after winning his first MVP award. But during the 2012 Olympics, it was clear that 34-year-old Bryant was on his way out of his prime while 28-year-old James was just about to peak.
The only achievement James was missing to dethrone Bryant was a championship, which he eventually won in 2012 after the Olympics. It was in the London Olympics when Bryant knew that James and Durant were the league's future, so the least he could do was set an example from the beginning.