When Kobe Bryant was six-years-old, his family moved to Italy so his father, Joe Bryant, could continue playing professional basketball.
During this time, Kobe’s father was one of the best players in the league and led his team to a historic promotion to the A Series in 1992. Unfortunately, Italian basketball has been suffering until recently when his father’s former team made it back to the A Series. It’s been 25 long years since the first promotion and Italian’s adopted son, Kobe Bryant, made his return this past week to his hometown of Cireglio.
When Bryant returned to the town for the first time since he was nine-years-old, he was greeted with laughter and tears from his old friends. During his visit, his old neighbor took him to his childhood basketball court where it was unfortunately getting old and destroyed.
According to Corriere Fiorentino, Kobe made it a priority to fix this basketball court so children could play basketball again:
“We don’t play here anymore? Where are the nets on the basketball court? I’m sorry, we have to do something. We have to get the basketball court back.”
Although 25 years have passed, soccer still remains the biggest sport in Italy and it seems like Bryant wants to change that when he retires. While he has remained consistent about playing two or three more years in the NBA, Bryant shared his retirement plans for the first time, and it includes owning an Italian basketball team:
“No. I’ll play for another two, three years in the NBA and then I’ll retire. I would like to invest in Italian basketball. I remember that my father was playing, Italian basketball was one of the best in Europe. Unfortunately, not anymore.”
When Kobe was growing up in Italy, everyone played soccer and he had to find time to play basketball. He is highly respected for not forgetting his childhood roots in Italy and, when he finally owns a team, it should encourage children to play basketball and start a movement.
While it’s great to hear his retirement plans, Bryant still has three years left in the NBA and is progressing well from his Achilles tendon rupture. Although everyone wants him to return for the season opener against the Clippers, it’s important to think long-term and ensure he will be healthy and playing at peak performance for the remainder of his career.
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