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It was at the 2008 Beijing Olympics that one basketball great saw first-hand the intensity of one of the all-time legends.
Seattle Storm star Sue Bird shared a top-notch story of Kobe Bryant’s constantly competitive nature on Wednesday during an Instagram Live with Los Angeles Sparks star and ESPN commentator Chiney Ogwumike.
Bryant competed for the first time at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. The men’s team won gold as did Bird and the women’s team, which will go for its seventh consecutive at the rescheduled Tokyo games in 2021.
But Bryant, who won the NBA MVP that year, and the Los Angeles Lakers were coming off an NBA Finals loss to the Boston Celtics. And as Bird details, it was still at the top of his mind a month later. It was the first time the three-time WNBA champion met Bryant.
Bird, Bryant and some other players were hanging out one night when the 18-time all-star happened to see a newspaper in the room that had a story on the NBA Finals. It featured a photo of Celtics star Paul Pierce celebrating.
“He didn’t say a word,” Bird said. “He didn’t say anything. But we saw him take the paper, he started cutting out the Paul Pierce picture, he folded it up, he put it in his pocket. And he was like, ‘motivation.’
“And we were like, ‘Ohhhhh.’ It never stops with him. You could just tell.”
The Lakers won the 2009 NBA title in five games against the Orlando Magic and Bryant was named Finals MVP.
Bird also shared her take on Bryant’s support of the women’s game through his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and wanting her to have the same dreams accomplished that he was able to fulfill. Bryant, Gianna and seven others, including two fellow Mamba Academy teammates, died in a January helicopter crash in California.
While the quarantine continues in cities and states around the nation during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, athletes have taken to Instagram Live to connect with fans. Bird and her long-time girlfriend Megan Rapinoe, star of the United States women’s national soccer team, have been on the app lately sharing fun stories.
Also on their Instagram Live show: Megan Rapinoe told the story of how she got way too drunk trying to keep up with Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi on vacation one time:
“You can’t drink with UConn players. It’s something about how they recruit us. It’s like in our DNA.” pic.twitter.com/GZO0DUcWBC
— Alexa Philippou (@alexaphilippou) March 29, 2020
If you’re looking for additions to the quarantine music playlist, they also belted out Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” while a little tipsy.
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