PHILADELPHIA — Coach Nick Sirianni channeled Kobe Bryant before the Philadelphia Eagles‘ game against Carson Wentz and the Washington Commanders on Sunday, and the results on the field reflected his Mamba mentality — right down to the final score.
Sirianni already had planned to tell a story about competitiveness to his players during their team meeting Saturday night. But as he was scrolling through his phone during the bus ride to Washington, a clip from Netflix’s upcoming “Redeem Team” documentary about the 2008 United States Olympic men’s basketball team popped up on his screen.
In it, LeBron James revealed that Bryant told his teammates that he was going to run “through Pau [Gasol]’s f—ing chest” on the first play of their game against Spain — Team USA’s biggest threat in the tournament. The two were friends and teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers, but it didn’t matter for Bryant — what did was winning and setting a tone.
Sure enough, Bryant drilled Gasol to the ground the first chance he got.
“Oh, ain’t no way we’re losing this game,” James recalled. “We’re about to beat the s— out of Spain.”
It was too perfect for Sirianni not to include in his talk to his players. For one, it fit the theme of competing. And two, it dovetailed well with the Eagles’ circumstance in Week 3, as they faced Wentz, their former franchise quarterback, for the first time.
Sure enough, Philadelphia sacked Wentz nine times and registered 17 QB hits in a soul-busting performance.
“It was a perfect video to add to the story I was telling there, and it did fit pretty well [with the opponent] of like, ‘Pau Gasol is my brother, Pau Gasol is my teammate, Pau Gasol, I love him, but I’m running through that guy’s chest,'” Sirianni said. “It was a cool video and it fit really well this weekend to say, we’re the ultimate competitors.”
As fate would have it, Sunday’s final score was 24-8, the two numbers Bryant wore as a pro.
Bryant was an Eagles fan, having spent part of his childhood in the Philly area, making it all the more fitting.
“Someone made it clear to me that the score ended up 24-8, which I thought was pretty cool, even though we wanted to score a lot more points than that and we wanted them to score nothing,” Sirianni said. “But, we’ll take that.”