Long before he was a coach in the NBA, Mike DAntoni was a pretty good point guard in Italy for Olimpia Milano, a team he led to five Italian League titles.
No big deal, you say?
How about this: One of DAntonis biggest fans was a kid whose father also played in Italy at the same time Kobe Bryant.
"He was a little kid about 12-years-old who would come out on the court at halftime in Italy and hang out and play," D'Antoni remembered. "We'd have to beat him off the court in order to start the second half. I never envisioned he's grow up to be Kobe Bryant. That's the way the relationship started. Americans usually in Europe flock together and eat together after games, and I got to know his parents very well. And Kobe. It just starts from there.
"He speaks Italian like I do do, and that's great, 'cause he can come over and cuss me out in Italian and you guys might not even know it. We're good."
There are other connections betwe...