Andre Iguodala says he only made 2012 Team USA because Kobe Bryant declared he was NBA’s best defender

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read

Andre Iguodala said he believes the only reason he was able to win an Olympic gold medal was because Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant spoke up about his defensive abilities.

“The only reason I made the Olympic team in 2012 is because Kobe Bryant was like, ‘This the best defender in the league,'” Iguodala said at the 57:40 mark.

Team USA won gold at the 2012 London Olympics with a star-studded roster highlighted by former and current Lakers players like Bryant, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, plus Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and James Harden.

Iguodala had just completed his eighth NBA season with the Philadelphia 76ers and was an All-Star for the 2011-12 campaign before he was selected to the Olympic team.

His defensive reputation was established, but he had never been named NBA All-Defensive First Team, an honor he’s received only once in his 19-season career (for the 2013-14 campaign with the Golden State Warriors).

The American team was coached by Mike Krzyzewski and won all eight of its Olympic contests, including a 107-100 victory against Spain to win the gold medal. It outscored opponents by an average of 32.1 points per game, so it is uncertain if Iguodala’s defense was actually necessary.

Some players on the team, including Bryant and James, believed it could defeat the famous 1992 Dream Team that included Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, among many other eventual Hall of Famers.

Iguodala has gone on to win four NBA championships with the Warriors and was named Finals MVP for their first title in 2015. He has played in the NBA Finals seven times, including in 2020 with the Miami Heat.

The 39-year-old played eight games for the Warriors last season, and his future in the league is unclear. He has played 1,231 regular season games for four teams and averaged 11.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

He also has played in 177 playoff games, and his teams have won 24 of the 35 playoff series in which he’s played in, including going 6-0 in conference finals.

Bryant clearly saw something in Iguodala that may not have been evident to many other people before the 2012 Olympics. Not only did it garner Iguodala a cherished gold medal, but it also may have propelled him to one of the most successful big-game careers in league history.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.