Tyson Chandler compares LeBron James and Kobe Bryant on Team USA in 2012

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For a span of a few years, Team USA basketball was truly blessed to have two of the all-time greats in LeBron James and Kobe Bryant at the same time.

James was on the 2004 Olympic and 2006 FIBA World Championship teams that only won bronze medals in both competitions. Clearly, an overhaul was needed, and part of that overhaul was bringing in Bryant.

Bryant was the difference in the 2008 Olympics, as he led Team USA to a win in the gold medal game versus Spain. Spain made things very competitive in the fourth quarter, but the Black Mamba hit shot after shot to deliver victory.

In 2012, he took a step back and allowed James, who had just won his first NBA championship, to assume a leadership role. During an episode of the “All The Smoke” podcast, Tyson Chandler said that James’ style of leadership was to keep things loose, while Bryant was very serious (h/t Lakers Daily).

“Bron was always the jokester,” Chandler said. “He kept it loose and funny all the time. Bron is actually funny as hell. Melo (Carmelo Anthony) controlled the music. He was like Radio Raheem. Melo always had a boom box coming on the bus.

“And then it was the young crew ’cause you had young James, young K.D. (Kevin Durant), young Russ (Russell Westbrook), and they was all together. They kept the youth of it. So it was a great collection.

“Kob was the older dude that wasn’t trying to hear all that laughing and joking and [expletive].”

This would be in line with the reputation of both superstars. While James has usually been gregarious, Bryant was a locked-in competitor and a no-nonsense, fire-and-brimstone type of leader.

But both styles worked, as Team USA won another gold medal in London during that summer of 2012.

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