The Beijing Olympics may initially be known for Michael Phelps' strength and Usain Bolt's speed, but, among American sports fans, no memory will prove as indelible as Kobe Bryant's redemption.
It's here. It's done. It will be officially completed on Sunday when the U.S. reclaims a gold medal against overmatched Spain, but, in terms of the one thing Bryant had lost, it's already happened.
The Olympics will only give Phelps and Bolt fame.
The Olympics have given Bryant the more enduring gift of respect.
Seven games down, one remaining, and longtime Bryant watchers are hearing the most unusual things.
Players speaking glowingly of him. Players speaking kindly of him.
Players who once universally distrusted him, well, they like him. They really like him.
The sort of All-Star team that once froze him out now follows him, gaining energy from his defense, making it their mantra.
Every game, Bryant has been the first player in a defensive stance, the first guy guarding the opponent in the backcourt, squatting and straining alone in front of four guys who have no choice but to imitate.