Kobe Bryant shoots a free throw shot against Lithuania at the Olympic Games London 2012 on Aug. 4, 2012 in London.
August 8, 2012
In his return to the Olympic Games, Bryant was now the elder statesman of the team just shy of his 34th birthday. Bryant struggled throughout the preliminary round, but his younger teammates were able to carry the scoring load as Team USA went 5-0. Then Bryant struggled in the first half of the quarterfinals, being held scoreless by Australia. Finally, once the Australians narrowed Team USA’s lead to three in the third quarter, Bryant caught fire.
With a six-point lead, Bryant led a sequence in which he hit a three-pointer, stole the ball on the other end and then came back down for another trey. Then in the fourth quarter, he hit four three-pointers in a row in just over a minute, allowing the Americans to pull away to a 119-86 win.
August 10, 2012
In the semifinal against Argentina, the third Olympic semifinal meeting between the two nations, Bryant this time helped Team USA open the game hot. Bryant went three of five from beyond the line and scored 11 points in the first quarter as Team USA built a lead it would not surrender. The Americans won 109-83 to book a place in their second consecutive gold-medal game.
August 12, 2012
In what would turn out to be his final game in red, white and blue, Bryant was again there for his teammates when they needed him most. In a rematch with Spain, Bryant poured in key buckets just as it appeared Spain might be getting a foothold in the game.
In the first quarter with Spain up 12-8, Bryant hit back-to-back threes to regain the lead. In the third quarter, a Bryant dunk evened the score. Minutes later and down one, Bryant nailed another three, this time giving the Americans the lead for good. Bryant, who scored 17 points, thereafter announced his retirement from international basketball, having helped Team USA get back to its familiar position atop the basketball world.