Kobe Bryant’s announcement that he would be retiring at season’s end sparked an outpouring of admiration and respect for the legendary Lakers’ guard’s career. Around the world, players shared their fondest memories of watching Bryant, or playing against him. In Australia, Mark Worthington and David Barlow shared their experience of facing Bryant in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games – the latter of which the team was coached by Philadelphia 76ers’ head coach Brett Brown.
Brown knows a thing or two about facing Kobe Bryant, too.
Brown has had to draw up defensive schemes to try limit Bryant in international competition as coach of the Australian Boomers, as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs, as well as a head coach with Philadelphia.
On Tuesday night, he spoke on his favorite Kobe memories, what stood out to him from the London 2012 Olympics, and what he told Worthington and Barlow about defending Bryant during that period.
“I had the privilege of coaching against him at the London Olympic Games. I had the privilege of coaching him with Pop (Gregg Popovich) at two All-Star games. I had the responsibility of trying to help prepare the Spurs to beat the Lakers to get through a Western Conference Finals championship many times. International, Western Conference Championships, All-Star games; the thing that stands out to me is when you go to that environment – say an All-Star game – and you’re looking at the 24 best players in the world, and even in that environment, he is clearly the Alpha Dog. He acts like it. He carries himself like it. When you see All-Star games, they’re fun, until about six minutes left in the game, he wants the ball to win. My memories of Kobe have spanned many years, and many different environments.
“The Australian culture is easy to wind up. If they are anything, they compete. And so, we would wind up the team – we knew it was a team effort – we knew we had nothing to lose at the London Olympic Games. Those two players [Mark Worthington and David Barlow] were his primary match-up and it was just one of those things to dismiss Kobe’s resume, and kind of the awe of playing against somebody who’s done what he’s done, and have that Australian spirit and just go fight. And fight they did. It was a four-point game with eight minutes left in the quarter-finals. I was proud of that effort from those guys.
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