Leslie ready after 'awesome' opening ceremony

Aug. 08, 2008, 3:16 p.m. (ET)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Lisa Leslie periodically will take a behind the scenes look at the U.S. women's Olympic team in a first-person diary

By LISA LESLIE=

For The Associated Press=

BEIJING (AP) Welcome back to my Olympic diary. I just left the opening ceremony and it was awesome. China did a great job with the torch lighting and the fireworks.

But the one thing we all learned is Kobe (Bryant) is the most popular player here, maybe the most popular athlete at the Olympics. The crowd was chanting his name, "Kobe, Kobe," and the volunteers who were supposed to be guiding us were trying to get autographs. It is so out of control with Kobe that LeBron James cracked, "I thought I was famous until I got here with Kobe." Kobe is big here in China.

Kobe is also (my daughter) Lauren's favorite player. Kobe has been playing with her since we've been here; I think he is missing his kids. Her favorites words are "up, up," because she likes to be picked up and Kobe has been giving her lifts. But I told Lauren, there is only so high you can go. I'm 6-foot-5, Kobe is 6-6 and my husband, Michael, is 6-6.

The thing that stood out the most at the ceremony was President Bush, his father as well as Laura Bush all were there. President Bush addressed the U.S. team before the ceremony. He wasn't sure what to say to us, but told us to just go out and win as many gold medals as we can. I had met the president once, Laura Bush twice and the last time I took a picture was with President Clinton. It is honor and I'm glad as a team we decided to go to the ceremony.

We almost didn't go because we play our first game Saturday against the Czech Republic. But we voted and decided to go. Everyone went except Tamika Catchings, who was getting treatment. But she is OK. We're all ready, so we'll get some rest now because we want to play our best basketball.

There has been a lot of talk about our game against Australia in the Diamond Ball pre-Olympic tournament (USA beat Australia 71-67 to win the title Tuesday), about how physical it was. Australia said we played dirty and our coaches warned us that the media was going to ask us, or tell us, what Australia had said during our press conference. The whole thing actually caught us off guard. I was kind of shocked by it considering they play a really physical game. It didn't seem like it was any more physical than our games with Russia or Latvia. But just play our game and leave all the rest to the other team. Sorry for beating you up.

Have to end now and get ready for the Czech Republic. But until next time, keep cheering us on and supporting us as we go for the gold.

Comments