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Kobe tastes his first-ever Olympic Games
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Like his Nike shoe advertisement said, he was loved by Chinese fans because he was really a great player. He was also hated because he showed no mercy in United States' big win over China.

Kobe Bryant, finally tasted his first-ever Olympic Games, with a victory over host team China. With 13 points, two rebounds, three assists and two steals, he played vital role in United States' 101-70 win in their first Group B match.

Bryant was blocked when he made his first attempt. But then he made three points. He stole. He fast broke and dunk. He defended, from half-court to another.

Members of the starting lineup of USA pose for a group photo before Men's Preliminary Round Group B game 12 between USA and China of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games basketball event at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium in Beijing, China, Aug. 10, 2008. [Xinhua/Meng Yongmin] 

"I played many big games," said the near 30-year-old. "but the energy tonight was different."

"The president told me in the dockroom, that he was coming here to support us. And our country support us."

Turning 30 years old on August 23, one day before the final of men's basketball of the Beijing Olympic Games, Kobe Bryant, the player many consider the best in the game, played a second straight summer with the United States after playing a vital role with on the 2007 USA team.

"We have been waiting for three years, and we just settling down to the energy of the game."

"I have played four NBA finals. But this is a different energy to play Olympic Games. Because it was for USA. It was very different because you know your country support you. And to hear that it really put things ahead. You can see USA athletes support and we will go to support them. It is something like brotherhood."

An unstopped scorer and relentless defender, Kobe Bryant was voted the 2007-2008 NBA Most Valuable Player as he completed his 12th NBA season, winning three champions all with the Los Angeles Lakers. Averaging 28.3 points last season, Bryant led the Lakers to Finals with a Western Conference best 57-25 regular season record.

Kobe Bryant (R) of USA guards Sun Yue of China during Men's Preliminary Round Group B game 12 between USA and China of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games basketball event at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium in Beijing, China, Aug. 10, 2008. [Xinhua/Li Jundong] 

A scoring machine. He scored 81 points during a regular season against Tornoto Rapators on January 22, 2006, the second most points a player got in a single game in NBA history, behind Wilt Chamberlain's 100. Bryant also scored 40 or more points in nine straight games in February 2003, one of the greatest individual scoring streaks in NBA history and only Chamberlain had a longer record with 14-straight games, twice during the 1961-1962 season.

Bryant finally got his first taste of international games in 2007. Being start-up in all 10 of the United States' FIBA Americas Championships games, he helped the USA team to a gold medal and perfect 10-0 tally with an average 15.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and a team-leading 1.6 steals, at while averaging 19.9 minutes and shooting 54.8% from the field overall.

(Xinhua News Agency August 11, 2008)

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