Why LeBron James and Kobe Bryant make me smile.

No, this isnt your typical post about this year’s redentition of the national basketball team dubbed “the Redeem Team” by those in the media. Nor is it a tyrade about the past and how this team can be an example for future Olympic squads.

While both are true I would like to focus on a little patriotism. You heard me right, love of country.

Think that these guys take the games as some sort of secondary summer sport? Think again.

Both Bryant and James are unabashed patriots who, in their own words, feel an pride in representing their country at the Olympics.

In an era which the media love to blame America first and trample on the flag it is hard to imagine such a thing coming from pop culture icons. I admit this brings a smile to my face.

James best expressed the emphasis of the forth coming gold medal round against Spain this morning.

“Being a part of the game on Sunday is the biggest thing for me, ever,” James said after the U.S. whipped Argentina 101-81 in the semifinals on Friday night. “When I got to the (NBA) finals and I thought that was big, but winning an NBA championship would never compare to winning a gold medal for my country.”

This coincides with what Bryant metioned earlier last the week regarding the significance of Olympic competition and when he first got his USA uniform.

Collinsworth: Tell the story when you first got your USA uniform.

Kobe: Well I had goosebumps and I actually just looked at it for awhile. I just held it there and I laid it across my bed and I just stared at it for a few minutes; just because as a kid growing up this is the ultimate, ultimate in basketball.

I know, odd isnt it? Here are two men lionized by pop culture proclaiming the importance of not just representing their country but winning a gold medal and getting goose bumps while doing so.

Maybe, just maybe there more to this team than a simple act of sports redemption which all to often plays to clichés.

I think this group of men get it. They understand their mission and seem determined to follow through with determination, focus and a sense of patriotism not seen since I would dare say the original “dream team” in 1992.

After all, its not every day you read NBA players emphasizing how much more important a gold medal is than a league championship, but that is exactly what is occurring.