Kobe Bryant used Olympic gold medal to motivate Pau Gasol in locker room
The soon-to-be-retired Bryant, after playing against Gasol for the final time on Sunday, recalled a story from the first day of Los Angeles Lakers preseason training camp in 2008.
He and Gasol were coming off facing each other in the Beijing Olympic gold-medal game.
Bryant and the U.S. beat Gasol and Spain 118-107, and Bryant wanted to deliver a message to Gasol heading into their first full NBA season as teammates.
“I had my gold medal just hanging in his locker,” Bryant said with a nasty smile. “Just rubbing it in, oh my god. Dude, you finished second in the [2008 NBA] Finals. You finished second in the Summer Olympics. You can’t finish second at the end of June this year, so you better get your [stuff] together. That was the message.”
Gasol did not remember seeing the medal, according to the New York Daily News.
“[Bryant] said, ‘Good job finishing second,’” Gasol said, according to the report. “I don’t know if he brought his medal. But he definitely talked trash.”
Gasol, 35, is heading toward what could be his final Olympics in Rio. He’s been Spain’s stalwart, leading the team in scoring at the last three Olympics, including gold-medal-game losses to the U.S. in 2008 and 2012.
Last year, Gasol carried Spain to Olympic qualification at EuroBasket, with brother Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Ricky Rubio and Jose Calderon sitting out the event.