Lakers players and staffers gathered for a spontaneous story session to remember Kobe Bryant on Tuesday, ESPN's Dave McMenamin reports.
At a staff luncheon, Lakers ownership, coaches, players, executives and trainers reminisced about their favorite interactions with the NBA legend, who died along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others during a helicopter accident on Sunday. It was the first time the team had convened since Bryant's death.
One notable anecdote came from LeBron James, who told a story about his and Bryant's time on Team USA during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, according to ESPN. In the gold-medal game, the U.S. faced Spain, who were led by Bryant's then-teammate Pau Gasol. In one of the game's first possessions, Bryant laid into Gasol with excessive force, cause the big man to tumble to the floor in agony.
It was all part of a calculated plan, according to the Lakers' director of sports performance Dr. Judy Seto, who also worked with Kobe during that Olympics. According to ESPN, Seto said that Bryant deliberately wanted to toughen up Gasol, who was labeled as "soft" after the Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals the season prior.
After Team USA beat Spain, Bryant even hung his gold medal in Gasol's locker room the following season in order to further motivate the Spaniard. The Lakers ended up winning the Finals that season, with Gasol playing a vital role.
The group also toasted Bryant's legacy with wine, according to ESPN.
At one point, James pontificated about how the team would continue to move forward in a manner that Bryant would approve of. James then said that he was capable of leading that endeavor.
"God gave me wide shoulders for a reason," James said, according to The Athletic.