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."
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Greg Jennings: Ryan Tannehill wants more freedom

Cam Newton: ‘I’m on record as being a sore loser’

‘Emotional’ LeBron eager to face Kobe Wednesday

Steve Spurrier says he should have retired after 2014 season

Joe Namath: Jets should take a look at Colin Kaepernick

Aqib Talib intentionally committed facemask during SB

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Knicks have ‘real chance’ at Russell Westbrook

No. 1 Villanova reaches new heights under Jay Wright

Twitter, Facebook report engagement decline during Super Bowl

Steve Spurrier becomes special assistant to South Carolina AD

Brent Musberger wants you to bet on Joe Lunardi’s bracketology

Unranked Duke uses big first half to beat No.13 Louisville

Wofford sets NCAA 3-point FG percentage record

Phil Jackson reunion with Lakers possible?

Would it be smart for the Broncos to franchise Von Miller?

Ten storylines to watch heading into spring training

Seahawks release awesome Marshawn Lynch tribute video

WATCH: Alleged LeSean McCoy fight video surfaces

Daniel Bryan says goodbye to WWE during teary retirement speech

Paul George delivers great line about driving by Kobe Bryant

WATCH: Oklahoma beats Texas on Buddy Hield's 3-pointer

Andre Drummond hits 70-foot buzzer beater to end 3rd quarter

Duke's Allen appears to intentionally trip Louisville's Spaulding

Candidates for New York Knicks head coaching job

Attorney alleges Johnny Manziel ruptured ex-girlfriend's eardrum

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

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

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