ESPN: The tone of the Kobe Bryant-Leandro Barbosa matchup was set just a few moments into the first quarter, but you had to look 80 feet away from the action to see it unfold.
As a player from Brazil shot two free throws at one end of the court, Barbosa stood beneath the basket all the way at the opposite baseline, trying to get a clear view.
Every second or so, however, Barbosa had to move a step or two to clear his line of vision from the obstruction that kept moving in his way.
That obstruction was Bryant, who was gluing himself to Barbosa at that very moment and stayed attached to him like white on rice all night in another stellar defensive performance that keyed Team USA’s 113-76 drubbing of previously undefeated Brazil on Sunday night.
“He don’t guard like that in the NBA, but he did tonight and I was impressed,” Barbosa told ESPN.com. “He came to guard me, and that was good practice for me. I learned a lot of things the way he was guarding me.”
Barbosa isn’t the only one learning a few things from Bryant, whose intensity and commitment level is having a trickle-down effect on his U.S. teammates. To prepare for Sunday night’s assignment, Bryant had Team USA video coordinators prepare him a DVD of Barbosa’s offensive repertoire, comprised of some 200 plays from tapes of the Phoenix Suns and the Brazilian national team. Some paperwork came with the DVD, too — an accompanying chart listing Barbosa’s efficiency percentage for each of his favorite moves.