A screenshot from the redeem team documentary shows several members of the team standing in a group

Kobe Stole the Show on the Redeem Team Documentary

Although all of America's 2008 Olympic basketball team members were highly talented, there was one driving force behind their success.
December 9, 2022
7 mins read

An immense number of storylines followed the 2008 USA Olympic men’s basketball team, the “Redeem Team.” They received unprecedented levels of visibility and pressure. At the previous games in 2004, the US team lost in the semifinal match and became the first basketball team from the USA not to win a gold medal.

In 2008, the roster and coaching staff were revamped. Hall of Famer and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski took over as the leader of USA basketball. The best players in the country wanted to take on the challenge of bringing USA basketball back to the top of the world.

Names like Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and others earned the 2008 team the title, “The Redeem Team.” This name was a play on words referring to the 1992 Olympic team, “The Dream Team.” Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird headlined the ‘92 team, and many called it the greatest basketball team ever assembled.

Through all of that, Kobe Bryant headlined the Netflix documentary titled “The Redeem Team.” It opens with a interview with Bryant where he details what it means to play for Team USA.

“To me, it’s just walking around every day,” Bryant said. “Whether I am going to the grocery store or to pick up coffee. People are just coming on the street and saying, ‘Bring back the gold.’ Enough said.”

Bryant was this generation’s Jordan. He was a superhero. He was the most famous basketball player in the world and an inspiration to millions of people around the globe.

He tragically passed away in January 2020 in a helicopter accident with his daughter. His untimely death shocked the basketball world.

In 2022, people are still very much aware of Bryant’s impact and legacy. The documentary about the Redeem Team showcases this, putting heavy emphasis on Bryant and dedicating the opening scene to him.

Later on in the documentary, clips of Bryant show him walking around Beijing, China and being mobbed by thousands of people. Most were fans, but many other Olympic athletes were just as starstruck around him.

Bryant’s tenacity and determination made him iconic. He was the embodiment of hard work and did anything he needed to in order to win at all costs.

Before the 2008 Olympics, the Redeem Team went overseas to train. Many of the players went out on the town during a free night. They were young and in the prime of their extremely busy careers. A night out to detach from lifting and practice seemed warranted so they could stay sane during their grueling training regimen.

After a long night, the players returned to the hotel where they were staying. Bryant left bright and early in the morning. He passed the players who came back into the hotel on his way to the gym before a day full of practice and more lifting.

At this point, Bryant was much more established in the league and was a veteran compared to most of the team. When they saw him getting up and working harder than everyone else, others began to follow suit.

James, Wade and others began getting up early and lifting with Bryant. They said that seeing him work as hard as he did helped them realize that they needed to match his intensity if they were ever going to reach his hall-of-fame level.

Little moments like these go a long way in telling the story of Bryant and the Redeem Team. He had such a profound impact on the careers of other players, many of whom are considered some of the greatest to ever lace up.

In the Gold Medal game of the 2008 Olympics, the United States matched up with Spain. All eyes of the basketball world were watching the American team, waiting to see how they would bounce back.

Pau Gasol was Spain’s best player, and a hall of Famer himself. He also happened to be Bryant’s teammate on the Los Angeles Lakers and his best friend.

Before the game, Bryant told his teammates that he knew the play Spain would run to start the game. He knew Gasol would set a screen on him, and he wanted to let his team know that he planned to run through the screen and take a foul.

James, Wade and Bosh told him that he didn’t need to take a foul and that they knew Gasol was a good friend of his. Bryant told them that he wanted to tell them about his plan so they could be brothers. He said that all he wanted to do was win and he would do anything it took to get achieve his goal.

The Redeem Team recaptured the Gold Medal for the USA, and with that, the respect of the basketball world. Living up to Dream Team comparisons is difficult, and some believe no team ever will. But the fact that we still discuss them today proves that they were one of the greatest USA teams ever assembled.

Since 2008, the USA has kept a stranglehold on global basketball. Each post-2008 Olympics has been dominated in a similar fashion, and the best players in America are still willing and excited to represent their country against the rest of the world.

Liam Jackson, Michigan State University

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Liam Jackson

Michigan State University
Creative Writing

Liam Jackson is a senior at Michigan State studying journalism. He is the sports editor at Impact 89 FM in East Lansing.

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