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Yes, you did see a Tunisian player ask for Kobe’s autograph

Aug 1, 2012, 11:21 AM EDT

Bryant of the U.S. gives a thumbs-up to Tunisia's Rzig after their game at the men's preliminary round Group A basketball match at the Basketball Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games Reuters

After the game Tuesday came the moment this 2012 Team USA felt like the original Dream Team.

Following the USA’s crushing Tunisia, in the handshake line Tunisian forward Mohamed Hadidane (who scored 11 points in the game) took off his shoe and handed it to Kobe Bryant with a sharpie and asked for his autograph. Right there on the court. Kobe obliged.

My favorite part of that was it was Hadidane’s own shoe, right off his foot. The shoe he had just played in.

We saw this kind of thing all the time with the original Dream Team back in 1992. Back then players on the other teams worshiped these NBA stars.

But that was a very different basketball world. Every team other than Tunisia in the Olympic Tournament has current and former NBA players — guys not just intimidated by the presence of Kobe Bryant (or LeBron James or Kevin Durant or… you get the idea). That rubs off on other players. Even a team like the USA’s Thursday opponent Nigeria, which has just two guys who have seen the NBA hardwood (Ike Diogu and Al-Farouq Aminu), don’t play in awe of the NBA stars anymore. The impact of those two guys permeates the team. And on the elite teams (Spain, Argentina) these are basically NBA squads.

But Hadidane was not going to be denied — he got his fandom geek on and was proud.

  1. knightrider1755 - Aug 1, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    Kobe is a hall of famer, hands down, so what’s the big deal about another player asking for his autograph?
    At least, he can say he had the opportunity to play against one of the greatest NBA players to ever play the game and he’ll have proof. Needless to say, this article is much to do about nothing.

  2. londonaiooo - Aug 1, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    If I had almost zero chance of playing against him again I’d get his autograph too. And tell my kids and grandkids how I scored 11 points against the US in the Olympics, which for Tunisian Basketball is a big deal.

  3. kevbarnett - Aug 1, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    For a majority of Olympians they have already achieved the greatest level of success just by qualifying. Most will not have a legit chance to win a medal so just being there is a crowing achievement. Nothing wrong with a guy who is playing in what will be the biggest moment of his athletic career wanting to get a autograph to remember it by.

    “Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive”

  4. thraiderskin - Aug 1, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    This doesn’t suprise me, guys like Kobe and Lebron are phenoms in basketball and even with old legs, it has got to be something to be on the same court with Bryant. This is why I love USA Basketball, our guys are the shining light in the sport, they’re near-gods to some of these international teams.

  5. garryfish - Aug 1, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Good for him!

  6. stayhigh_247 - Aug 1, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    As a fan of basketball and a Kobe fan in general, I see nothing wrong with this. He may never get that opportunity again anyone that hates on him for this is a dumbass..

  7. glink123 - Aug 1, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    not to mention he can now sell his Kobe-autographed shoe on EBay for about $10k, which in Tunisia is probably like 5 years salary.

  8. lakerluver - Aug 1, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    Kobe is more than just a HOF’er. He’s amongst the elite of the elite. Easily one of the top 5-10 players ever. And he still has time left to move up that list

  9. BigBeachBall - Aug 1, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    that Tunisian player won’t be on the next Olympic team… what an idiot… goes against the spirit of competition… if i was his teammate I would take his autograph shoe and light it on fire… here’s your shoe back…. hope it looks great on your mantle kid

    • londonaiooo - Aug 1, 2012 at 6:53 PM

      Tunisia making this tournament was a huge upset, Angola have won the last 6 qualifying tournaments out of Africa for the Olympics. And I think his teammates will judge him on his effort, not being a Kobe fan. It’s not like he stared in awe of Kobe during the game, he played hard and represented his country well. You however didn’t represent yourself well at all, and if you ever meet Kobe, please remember you’re too cool for his autograph.

  10. imforbigblue - Aug 1, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    I’m surprised Mr. Me didn’t ask for $20 before doing it since he thinks he should be paid for everything

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