LAS VEGAS – Chris Paul‘s gold medal from Beijing will be making the rounds during training camp and the run-up to London for the Olympics.
It’s a calculated move designed to motivate Paul more than anyone else. Since 10 of the 12 players on the roster already own gold medals of their own, from either Beijing or the 2010 World Championship in Turkey, there isn’t much need for any contrived motivational ploys from Paul or anyone else.
When asked how Olympic gold would compare to winning a NBA title, Paul was quick to remind us all that he has no basis for making such a comparison.
“I have mine to take on the trip with me just to remember it by,” Paul said. “There’s a lot of guys that can say they won a NBA championship but there are very few guys who can say they’ve ever won a gold medal.”
Paul wisely changed lanes when one reporter suggested he declare the U.S unbeatable in London, but he and all of the other players on the roster made it clear that this is a gold medal mission in every sense.
“You don’t go into this process thinking about anything else,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
LEADER OF THE PACK
While LeBron James and Kevin Durant come into this process as the two most decorated players on the roster, based on their most recent performances during the NBA season, Kobe Bryant remains this team’s elder statesman and clear leader in so many ways.
After the formal news conference announcing the team, the players retreated to an adjacent ballroom where they were seated at 12 different tables and interviewed by hundreds of reporters.
Bryant’s time in that setting was shorter than anyone else’s, he politely answered questions and then headed for the door. As he stood up, Russell Westbrook, whose station as next to Bryant’s, looked over and playfully asked why the Los Angeles Lakers star was allowed to exit before anyone else.
“You get that with 17 years in the game,” a smiling Bryant said as he cut through the door on his way out.
“I guess he is the OG on this team,” Westbrook mused. “You gotta respect that.”
With so many experienced players on the roster, Bryant probably won’t have to conduct daily lessons on the dos and don’ts of preparation for the Olympics.