Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 11/16/12
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 between the Lakers star and their new coach, but its not incorrect to say their relationship began decades ago, Kobe as an adoring fan, DAntoni as the player he most enjoyed watching. In fact, when Kobe first entered the league, he wore No. 8, in honor of D'Antoni. "I liked his competitiveness," Bryant said. "He showed a lot of emotion when he played. He was intelligent. "He used his size very well. Those are some of the things I liked about him." Kobe laughed and added, "keep in mind, I was about 10-years-old and already analyzing." Bryants father, Joe Jellybean Bryant, played in Italy for four teams from 1984 to 1991. DAntoni was a point guard with Olimpia Milano from 1978-90 and became the teams all-time leading scorer. In 1990, he was voted the leagues best point guard of all time. One more connection: DAntoni and Bryant worked together as coach and player on U.S. Olympic teams in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London. DAntoni was an assistant coach on both gold-medal-winning teams. "There's something about Kobe," D'Antoni said. "He's the most competitive guy I've ever been around. Whether it's an All-Star game or whether it's a pick-up game, he's coming at you. That's why he has the rings he has and has had the career he's had. That's not going to change. His intensity is something that, as a coach, man I love it. "And he's playing great basketball right now, as good as he's ever played."
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
The best pick from every NBA Draft
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

LISTEN: Kevin Harlan saves MNF again by doing play-by-play of two idiots on the field

Jets security guards make best tackles of the night on fan rushing field

NFL changes stance, Titans and Browns can participate in ‘My Cause My Cleats’ campaign

Report: MLB smashed old revenue record in 2016

Percy Harvin out for season due to migraines

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ducks goalie had embarrassing reason for not playing in relief

Bruce Arians emphatically shoots down retirement rumor

Siemian out of walking boot; Broncos hoping he can play

Report: Harper seeking $400 million, likely to leave Nationals

Report: Aldon Smith setting up meeting to seek reinstatement

Rams players vent frustrations as losses pile up

The five 2016 Heisman finalists: How do they measure up?

The good, bad, and ugly from NFL Week 13

Championship Week as explained by Diana Ross

Cult of Sport: Before there was Ezekiel Elliott, there was Eric Dickerson

MLB Winter Meetings primer: Every team's trade temperature on the hot stove

James Franklin, Penn State come up roses

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Sporting life: Gifts for real fans (that aren't ugly NFL sweaters)

Best of Yardbarker: CFB Championship Week chaos

New faces help Spurs continue unparalleled success

The Pirates prepare for rarely chartered waters in dealing Andrew McCutchen

Joakim Noah’s contract is becoming worst deal in NBA

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The five 2016 Heisman finalists: How do they measure up?

The good, bad, and ugly from NFL Week 13

Championship Week as explained by Diana Ross

Cult of Sport: Before there was Ezekiel Elliott, there was Eric Dickerson

Winter Meetings primer: Every team's trade temperature on the hot stove

James Franklin, Penn State come up roses

Final College Football Playoff rankings: Alabama reigns

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Sporting life: Gifts for real fans (that aren't ugly NFL Christmas sweaters)

New faces help Spurs continue unparalleled success

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker