Kobe Bryant Picks Soccer as His Favorite Sport over Basketball

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Kobe Bryant Picks Soccer as His Favorite Sport over Basketball
Kent Horner/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant has made quite the career out of basketball.

He's lived and breathed the sport as his ridiculously impressive work ethic drives him to new heights year in and year out.

The hours watching tape, practicing footwork in the gym, spraying in shots from all over the court while only lights keep him company and working on his health have paid great dividends, allowing him to become one of the all-time greats.

But if you assume that basketball is his favorite sport, you'd be wrong.

FIFA.com asked the Mamba, who has been attending matches at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, about his fandom, and his response was rather interesting. "I am actually [a huge fan]. I grew up in Italy. From the age from six to 14 I played soccer every day. It is actually my favorite sport," he said.

Unfortunately, there was no follow-up question, but Kobe has spoken about his love for soccer in the past.

Back in 2006, he discussed his playing career with Luis Arroyave of the Chicago Tribune (via the Los Angeles Times' Mark Medina):

I wasn't anything spectacular. I would have moments of doing something crazy that really wasn't done on purpose. I'd pull off a nice move that was unintentional.

I started out at goalkeeper because my arms were so long and I didn't really have a good feel at handling the ball. As I practiced and progressed, they moved me to midfield.

In fact, it wasn't until he moved to Philadelphia that he truly committed to basketball. While living in Italy, where his father played professional hoops, he was obsessed with both sports, failing to choose one over the other.

Nonetheless, he's remained a huge fan of the sport, regularly weighing in on soccer happenings while occasionally showing off his skills and attending matches.

"The Philadelphia-born Bryant, who speaks fluent Italian and Spanish, grew up supporting Serie A giants AC Milan, with his favorite player being former Dutch striker Marco van Basten," reported CNN.com while the last World Cup was taking place in South Africa.

This fandom is nothing new.

It's not as though Kobe is just trying to hop onto a bandwagon that's growing ever-larger after a certain Clint Dempsey goal less than a minute into the U.S. men's national team's opening match of the group stage.

But this admission that it's his favorite sport? Well, that's new. And can you imagine if the Mamba had taken up the world's most popular sport rather than the one that's led to a stellar career in purple and gold?

It's safe to say that NBA history would've turned out rather differently.

Who knows, though? Maybe we could see a post-NBA career in which Kobe puts on some cleats rather than sneakers.

At the very least, he'll have more time to practice a different kind of dribbling once his current contract expires.

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