Posted October. 29, 2008 08:19,
Kobe Bryant led Team USA to the gold medal in the Beijing Olympics as part of the Redeem Team.
He helped his country regain global basketball supremacy after the United States failed to win the gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Bryants next goal is to add another NBA championship as the league begins its season today. His Los Angeles Lakers lost the NBA Finals last season to the Boston Celtics 4-2, including a crushing 131-92 drubbing in the final game.
The Lakers are on the shortlist for the title, with coaches and Las Vegas oddsmakers betting on their victory.
Bryant said the Celtics still pose the greatest obstacle and warned against the Lakers repeating the same mistake.
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson showed confidence, saying the Lakers have been grilled harder than ever.
The Detroit Pistons in 1988-89 were the last team to lose the championship and then win it the next year, facing the Lakers on both occasions in the finals.
The Western Conference, where the Lakers belong, is dotted with tough teams such as the Utah Jazz, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Hornets and Houston Rockets. That is why Bryant says the conference is full of monsters.
In the Eastern Conference, the Celtics are still the team to beat thanks to its star trio of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
The regular season consists of 82 games from November through April, and the top eight teams in each conference will make the playoffs.