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“He want to smile too and he want to feel accepted” - How the Redeem Team welcomed Kobe Bryant with open arms

LeBron always made an effort to make Kobe feel welcome and at home during their time together on the Redeem Team
USA Basketball team members Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Kobe Bryant

Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Kobe Bryant

When Kobe Bryant joined the Redeem Team in 2007, some were skeptical because they didn’t know if he would make the team better or be the reason for chaos. After all, Bryant wasn’t exactly the ideal teammate, especially since his ugly and messy breakout with Shaquille O’Neal was well-documented at that time.

There were concerns about how Bryant would get along with the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony because he wasn’t always the friendliest guy in the room.

Kobe always kept his guard up.

Throughout his career, Bryant always approached basketball seriously. He never made an effort to bond with his teammates early in his career nor befriended his opponents. Kobe always had his guard up, which is why Coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff had their concerns.

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So in the 2008 Olympics, Bryant may have been all about the work and led by example, but he did so on a team that made sure to embrace him with open arms.

Listen, I understand Kobe is serious as hell when it comes to work, but he want to smile too and he want to feel accepted too. I mean, I don’t call myself a comedian but one thing about him, he’s always going to keep his guard up. But it was a relief for the whole team and just for the program to see him in a different light,” LeBron James shared in the Redeem Team documentary.

LeBron and Kobe’s special partnership

One of the reasons why James and Bryant got along during their time together on the Redeem Time was because the former made an effort to make sure Kobe was always included in whatever they did. Both may have known that they were competing for the best in the world status at that time, but that didn’t stop them from setting aside their egos to achieve a bigger goal.

Where you would think that there might be a butting of heads, you know those two guys were amazing as far as developing a relationship. Humor played a big part in the whole thing,” Krzyzewski said.

Ultimately, James and Bryant’s time together in the 2008 Olympics was one of the most enjoyable moments for basketball fans. It was two alpha dogs who approached the game very differently but didn’t care who shined over the other. Winning the gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics tied both players for life.

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