By Antonis Stroggylakis/ email@example.com
Kobe Bryant remembered how back in 2008 he used a unique and possibly a bit cruel motivational tactic to inspire his then-teammate Pau Gasol: Putting his 2008 gold medal in the Spanish center’s locker.
Being one of the biggest competitors ever in the history not only of basketball but sports in general, Kobe absolutely hated the way the Los Angeles Lakers lost the championship series vs. the Boston Celtics in 2008. So he thought of a way to push his teammate towards elevating his game to a new dimension, toughness-wise, the next season.
With the launch of the 2008-2009 training camp, Gasol found a shiny metal object waiting for him in his locker. It was the gold medal that Kobe won with Team USA won in that summer’s Olympic Games by beating Spain, and Pau, in the Final.
According to Bryant, Gasol got quite mad at him. But the end result paid off, since Kobe and Pau won two back-to-back rings together, in 2009 and 2010. The latter by taking vengeance against the Celtics.
“One of my favorite ones (things that motivate teammates), Pau hates it every time I tell this story. Hates it. But we lost to the Celtics in 2008. And it was a physical series, I mean, they beat the crap out of us. So we go into the Olympic year that year, we played Spain in the gold medal match and we beat them. So now we come back to start training camp, and when Pau shows up the first day of training camp, I have my gold medal hanging in his locker.
“The one thing that he [Pau Gasol] truly, truly loves is his country. And that is like everything to him. So it just drove him crazy. I said ‘Pau, listen…’ and he said ‘You’re an a-hole!’ I said: ‘Listen, Pau, you lost to the Celtics, you lost to us in the gold medal match, let’s not make this three in a row this year, OK? Let’s win this thing.’ And that was it.
Pau was a phenomenon, to begin with. And for him was just to step up to the next level of physicality, which he did and we went to win back-to-back championships.”