Like Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade has played on some of the world’s biggest stages next to the world’s greatest athletes.
But there’s one moment that stands apart from the rest during his Hall of Fame career.
On Wilson’s “DangerTalk,” podcast, Wade shared a special story about a fond memory he shared with five-time NBA champion and perennial All-Star Kobe Bryant while Team USA prepared for the 2008 Olympics.
“One of my favorite things about that experience with Kob’ is, I was coming off the bench,” Wade told Wilson. “And Kob’ came to me and said he’s going to pick up his defender 94 feet and harass him, I will turn him. Once I get them to half court, I want you to shot at him and come for a trap and get a steal. Kobe’s mindset was different because all he cared about was defense. When he knew me and him are going to play together, he didn’t care about the offense.
If you ask Wade, Mamba Mentality was a real thing. Kobe’s scoring feats were prolific, but he was equally brilliant as a lock-down defender.
“To be able to play with a guy who had everything offensively, who could have just demanded we give him the ball every time down, was worried about defense in the Olympics,” Wade said. “Come on, bro, what am I going to do but follow suit. That was one of my favorite things when he came to me and said. I didn’t care about starting anymore because I cared about my moments when I got the chance of getting on the court with Kobe, because I knew what was going down. It was special.”
The “Redeem Team” included a cast of eleven NBA All-Stars, a Hall of Fame coach, and two NBA MVP’s and led the U.S. men’s basketball team to a gold medal in Beijing.
Wade and Bryant stood on the podium next to one another as they received their gold medals.
“Well, I think about that image of you guys putting your head down, putting the gold medal on you guys, as you mentioned 9 and 10 right next to each other and just that feeling of that,” Wilson said.
“I love the intentionality of great ones, I love the intentionality, the focus, and the tenacity of people. And people don’t get to see that all the time. People don’t get to know that. People get to see this great scorer in Kobe Bryant obviously, but people don’t know that he loved defense just as much, if not more even at times, so it’s amazing to think about.
Kobe went on to become the only NBA player to have a 20-year career with one team. He also had an unbelievable list of accolades: Five championships, two Finals MVPs, one regular season MVP, third on the all-time career scoring list, 15 All-NBA teams, 18-time All-Star, four-time scoring champion, the list goes on and on.
Kobe was truly a once in a generation player, and it’s special stories like these that help remind us that his legacy was more than stats and accolades— he was the game’s ultimate competitor.