Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Updated: April 5, 11:18 AM ET
Teammates: Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul
PODCASTS: 710 ESPN Kobe Bryant breakdown | 710 ESPN Chris Paul breakdown
In December, for a brief moment, you thought they would be teammates in L.A. and your imagination ran wild.
But four years ago, in Beijing, Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant did wear the same uniform, for Team USA.
So you don't have to imagine what it would have been like to see them play together. You can remember it, along with all the players and coaches who witnessed it firsthand on their way to a gold medal. Here are their memories, here is the portrait they paint:
• Playing with Kobe: How he was able to just, not so much fit in, but all of us came together. I mean, everybody had doubts about how that team was going to come together, how everybody was going to react to one another. Nobody had any problems, nobody from day one. Everybody clicked, everybody talked, everybody hung out. I was one of the guys that people were skeptical about playing with Kobe. But we helped bring everybody together and just made everybody have a good time.
• Playing with CP3: He's the greatest. He's one of the best teammates, man. He's a hard worker. He's a feisty little fellow. He's a competitor, he wants to win, and that's what he brought to the USA team. Everybody brought something different on that team.
• NBA career: Click for Carmelo Anthony's player page.
• Playing with Kobe: You know what it was for me? And me and him are good friends, but I hadn't really trained with him -- is how hard he works. We saw his dedication to the game. He would get in the gym, lift weights, he would go over to the gym, get shots up before practice, go through the whole practice, and that was his routine every day. He's not great by accident is my point. He puts the work in. And I think what I learned about Kobe is he's so hungry to be good, he puts the work in. I just think his hunger and his determination is what I was most impressed with.
• Playing with CP3: How easy the game is for him. He don't really have no pressure to score, but he can give you 25, 30 any night he wants to. He's just a great playmaker. He comes off the pick and roll, pinpoint precision passing. Maybe the best passer we've got in the game. And does a great job of making everybody around him better. He puts the ball right where you need to have it to shoot the ball, score layups, get dunks, get open jump shots. And great confidence; he has great confidence in what he can do for us. I was really impressed by him, too.
• NBA career: Click for Carlos Boozer's player page.
• Playing with Kobe: When he hit that 3 against Spain and just posed there -- it was such a tense moment. It was a crazy shot. I wasn't expecting him to shoot, and when he did it took my breath away. That and people's reaction to him in China. That was crazy.
• Playing with CP3: I remember how vocal CP was on the court. He's one of the best point guards in the world, but he's also got a big voice. You always hear him. He's a little guy with a big voice. You always know he's out there. And he made you talk and get into it to match him.
• NBA career: Click for Chris Bosh's player page.
• Playing with Kobe: Just the way he approaches practice. Everybody has a unique style. Just watching how he approaches every game and how committed he is to getting better.
• Playing with CP3: Man, that was four years ago, but it was fun. Chris Paul's a great point guard. He's a great guy to play with. He's one of the best point guards in the game.
• NBA career: Click for Dwight Howard's player page.
• Playing with Kobe: That was the first time I'd had the chance to play with Kobe, and I'll always just remember being his teammate. He made a big impact on us. Of course, everyone always remembers that four-point play.
• Playing with CP3: My best memories with CP are the things we did off the floor together. We played in several countries leading up to the Olympics, and we went out and saw the sights. Also we went to several other events at the Olympics together. It was fun to cheer the other athletes.
• NBA career: Click for LeBron James' player page.
• Playing with Kobe: Kobe was great. He practices as if it's Game 7. He wants to prove that he's the best player in the world every single practice.
• Playing with CP3: He's great on and off the court. He's funny, but he's a competitor who hates to lose. He's such a competitor. That's why he's one of the best in the game.
• NBA career: Click for Jason Kidd's player page.
• Playing with Kobe: You learn a lot of things from Kobe, just his patience and things like that. Just the ultimate competitor. Stays in the gym all the time. Always wants to get better. Always wants to work. When you go out there and play against him, you have to be ready for war. He's always moving, he's always physical, you have to always be alert at any time.
• Playing with CP3: Just a great guy on and off the court -- especially off the court. Playing with him, as I'm sure all the guys on the Clippers can attest to: He's always looking to find you. If you just set yourself to get open, set good screens, he'll find you. You just have to keep moving. He's just so unselfish. He knows when to pick his spots and score and when to just back off a little bit and make plays for guys. It was great playing with him.
• NBA career: Click for Tayshaun Prince's player page.
• Playing with Kobe: We became good friends over that time period. We're around the same age, so we hung out and had the same perspective around that time. We had great respect, obviously, for each others' games, but talked more about life rather than basketball. And just competitive in practice. [Those] practices were some of the greatest practices I've ever been a part of. We matched up every day. And you can throw D-Wade in there. It was incredible. So great a teammate. We had a great time together off the court.
• Playing with CP3: CP3, man, was just a great teammate, man. A little younger than he is now, but a leader, though. You could tell he was a leader. He was the guy that was going to watch Jason [Kidd] and learn from Jason. But at the same time, he knew what he had to do. He's just a great guy. You can't be a great without being nasty. There's definitely a killer instinct in him. He hates to lose. Competitive. He was a monster on the court. Just [knew] how to switch it on and off.
• NBA career: Click for Michael Redd's player page.
• Playing with Kobe: That shot he hit in the title game, that long 3. No matter what else happens, that is when you're glad to have Kobe Bryant on your team. He played so big in that game. It was Kobe at his best. That was a Kobe moment right there. I was glad he was on my side.
• Playing with CP3: Me, CP and Deron Williams played together a lot. Among ourselves we said that we were going to be difference-makers when we got in. I remember the energy that we all brought to the game when we came in. Defensively, we caused havoc. It was fun to play with him, we adopted our role and we accepted it. And I think we did a damn good job.
• NBA career: Click for Dwyane Wade's player page.
• Playing with Kobe: I just remember how competitive he was. Everything with him is a competition, and I'm kinda the same way. So we'd just be shooting casually, and it would turn into shooting games, which he would cheat on. (said jokingly)
• Playing with CP3: We played a lot together; me and him would usually come in about the same time. And I played the 2. We were kind of interchangeable. Whoever would get the ball would bring it up. I thought we played well together, played off each other, and we'd up the tempo a little bit with D-Wade in there.
• NBA career: Click for Deron Williams' player page.
KOBE ON CP3:
He's tough. He's tough as nails, man; he doesn't back down from anything or anybody. I'd never been as close to him, but when I was [on the Olympic team] I'd try to challenge him, see what he's made of and he's a tough little sucker.
|In an ever-developing L.A. story, Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant have met twice this season on the Staples Center floor with the teams splitting the meetings.|
CP3 ON KOBE:
Me and Kob really figured out how much we had in common on that trip. That Olympic experience is when we got a lot closer. Me and my wife send him Christmas cards and his family sends us Christmas cards, and now we talk on a regular basis. We both want to win so badly. It's one of those things where as great a relationship as we have, as long as we're playing on the same court against each other, we're always going to get into it, you know what I mean? That's the respect factor, because you know that he wants it just as bad as I do.
Mike Krzyzewski, Head Coach
• Coaching Kobe: The main thing I remember about coaching both Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul is 100 percent cooperation. Truly great players realize that two acting as one, rather than as an individual, can produce amazing results. With Kobe, coaching him in 2008 is what I had hoped to do 12 years earlier, which was to coach the best player on the planet. He cooperated fully and, really, it is one of the best moments of my coaching career.
• Coaching CP3: In Chris Paul, we had someone who had the personality and intellect at the very highest level to orchestrate such a great group of players. It was unbelievable to watch how he'd put all these amazing pieces together to form the best group we could become.
Jim Boeheim, Coach
• Coaching Kobe: Kobe, from day one, is just the hardest-working player I've ever been around. He just does an unbelievable job. He came in, he worked out before practice and practiced harder than anybody and then worked out afterwards and continued the whole trip. The first trip we are qualifying and then the Olympics themselves. He's just an unbelievable competitor and in practice goes 100 percent every day in practice and that brings everybody else up to that same level. He was a huge part of us being ready in the Olympics to be able to win. Of course, when we needed a big shot, he made a big shot against Spain.
• Coaching CP3: He was great. Just really sacrificed. He said to the coaching staff, he said to Coach Krzyzewski, that, 'I'll come off the bench. Whatever you need.' He's really a terrific player. I watched him over the last couple years, he's gotten stronger and looks even better now than he did. He was still relatively young at the time, but he looks really stronger. He's just a great guy, great kid, to be around. The one thing about the Olympic team and experience was all the guys, all the pros, bought in and just everything was done the right way and they worked hard every day. It was just a terrific experience, and Chris and Kobe were just a great example of guys who work hard, do what they're supposed to do and really, true professional players.
Mike D'Antoni, Coach
• Coaching Kobe: The intensity is off the charts and he makes everybody better just by his attention to everything the team does and buying into working out and all that. You're talking about one of the highest level of champions that the league has, and to coach him was a dream.
• Coaching CP3: It was as good as it gets. Obviously, when you say, is he the best in the game today, you always can have an argument with somebody. But he's in the argument. And as a person, off the court, where I look more for playmakers, what kind of leader is he? And what does he add other than his skills? The best. He rallies people, he's competitive, he's a feisty little guy. He's got every attribute you need to be a winner.
Nate McMillan, Coach
• Coaching Kobe: I've even looked at Kobe and said, 'I think there are times he wants the game close.' He doesn't want a blowout. He wants to play in the fourth quarter and he wants to play late in the fourth quarter and he wants the game close. I think that motivates him, as a way of challenging the game. I haven't talked to him, this is just me. I think he loves that moment so much that he prefers the game, he wants the game to be close so that he can play the fourth quarter.
• Coaching CP3: I think Chris is a very confident player. He feels that he's going to win when he's on the floor. He's fearless in what he thinks he can do on the court
PODCASTS: 710 ESPN Kobe Bryant breakdown | 710 ESPN Chris Paul breakdown
|Time to cast aside memories of what once was and dreams of what could have been. The Lakers and Clippers are battling for playoff position with Kobe and CP3 leading their respective L.A. teams.|