The United States Basketball Women’s National Team has gone undefeated at the Olympic Games since 1996. The team is going for its seventh-straight Olympic gold medal this year at the Tokyo Games. When members of the team sat down with reporters, somehow the “Black Mamba” came up.

Kobe Bryant is remembered for a lot of things, but not many people instantly think of his two Olympic gold medals. However, WNBA star and Olympic basketball player Sue Bird remembers a specific incident with the Lakers legend back from the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

Bird recalls a night when Bryant joined a game of spades with several players from the women’s national team.

“There was a little wine involved and he got very competitive in drinking the wine,” recalled Bird, a four-time gold medalist. “And it was like he didn’t want to be behind anybody on these glasses… And we were, like, ‘Kobe, we’ve got practice tomorrow. We’re just sipping,’” she said. “No. He was into this wine. ‘I’ve had three glasses. You’ve only had one.’”

The 2008 Summer Games took place two months after the Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. At one point during the card game, Bryant picked up a newspaper and saw a picture of Celtics star Paul Pierce.

“And he literally ripped out this picture of Paul Pierce and he folded it up and he put it in his pocket,” Bird said. “He was like, ‘This is motivation for next year.’ It was just this glimpse into how he worked, how he functioned.”

The story speaks to Bryant’s competitive nature. Everyone knows about the “Black Mamba” mentality that Bryant utilized on the court. It’s not that surprising to hear about Bryant exuding that competitive nature off the basketball court as well.


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