Later this month, the USA Basketball Men’s National Team will head to Tokyo, Japan for the Olympics in search of their fourth straight gold medal. The roster, led by Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, was announced a while back, and this week the jersey numbers were revealed.
Typically that sort of perfunctory business isn’t a big deal, but in this case, there is one noteworthy item. Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum will wear No. 10, which was Kobe Bryant’s number when he played for Team USA. The late Los Angeles Lakers legend was Tatum’s favorite player growing up, and the two formed a relationship once Tatum made it to the league.
“I remember one talk, it might have been after a game, and he was saying that a lot of people won’t understand what you do,” Tatum said. “He said, ‘What I mean by that is, the ones that really want to be great and really want to be special really take that whatever-it-takes mentality.’ He told me it takes sacrifice, because the ultimate question is about how much are you willing to give up to be great.”
This is Tatum’s first trip to the Olympics, and it’s also the first Olympics since Bryant tragically passed away. Getting to honor Bryant and continue his legacy means a lot to Tatum.
“With this being the first Olympics since we lost him, it holds that much more value. It’s not something I take lightly,” Tatum said. “It’s a tremendous honor, and I’ll wear it proudly.”
Tatum and Team USA are currently in Las Vegas for training camp, which runs from July 6-18. During camp, they’ll have five exhibition games against Nigeria, Australia (twice), Argentina and Spain. Once that ends it will be straight to Tokyo for the Olympics.
Team USA’s first group stage game is on July 25 against France.
Courtesy: CBS Sports