LONDON – Kobe Bryant’s basketball career has come full circle. Mike D’Antoni, the man he grew up admiring as a player in Italy, is now an assistant for the USA Olympic team.
“I enjoy spending time around him [as a coach],” Bryant said. “I’ve also enjoyed being around him because I’ve watched him growing up. He played in Italy, and I grew up over there and I enjoyed watching him then.”
Bryant was raised in Italy when his dad, Joe “Jellybean”
Bryant, played there professionally for seven seasons. At the time, D’Antoni was a star player for Olympia Milano. Bryant left for the U.S. in 1991, just as D’Antoni began his legendary Italian coaching career.
D’Antoni has made an impact with Team USA, especially with his innovative offensive imagination, which made his five-year, “seven seconds or less” run with the Phoenix Suns so memorable.
Bryant referred to D’Antoni as an “offensive genius.” U.S. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said he was “brilliant.” Even Carmelo Anthony, who played for D’Antoni during his turbulent coaching career in New York, said “it’s fun” to be reunited with him.
“It’s good to do something,” D’Antoni said. “The Olympics are fantastic. Everybody is really going in the same direction. This is easy work in the sense of you’re representing your country, which makes you proud to be able to do something like that. But the biggest thing is nobody gets paid, this is just to win a gold medal and to coach the best athletes in the world is just amazing.”
Krzyzewski calls D’Antoni a co-coach instead of an assistant and said D’Antoni brings something unique.
“By playing and coaching internationally he has brought to us a level of respect from the international community just having him on our staff,” Krzyzewski said.
Team USA was favored to beat Spain in the gold medal game Sunday, but D’Antoni’s future remains uncertain when he returns to the states.
“I look at everything and I love to coach, and that’s what I’ll do,” D’Antoni said. “I hope I can find a job. I’ll look around and see what happens and see what the future holds.”
Could it be back in Phoenix someday as coach of the Arizona State basketball team?
“Obviously, Phoenix is a great city,” D’Antoni said. “Arizona State is a great university, they got a good coach [Herb Sendek] and everything is good. I’m looking to probably stay in the NBA and hopefully that’s where my future will be.”
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy