Soccer game

Shaquille O’Neal shares heartwarming photo of Kobe Bryant watching soccer game in Italy with his father

Shaquille O’Neal and the late Kobe Bryant have formed one of the most dominant tandems in the world. NBA has never seen. They were superb teammates who became fierce rivals and ultimately legends of the game. The LA Lakers icons also shared a bond that lasted well beyond their playing careers.

O’Neal shared a post on his Instagram account showing an extremely unusual photo of Bryant and his father, Joe Bryant, watching a soccer game in Italy. The picture shows the father and son dressed in winter clothes and braving the biting cold to enjoy the sport that Italians are passionate about.

A young Kobe Bryant and his father watching a soccer game in Italy ❤️ (via @Lega_B)

By now, Bryant’s well-told story is one that most basketball fans are familiar with. “The Black Mamba” moved in with his father when he was still 6, while the elder Bryant continued his basketball career in the Old Country.

From 6 to 13 years old, Bryant immersed himself fully in Italian culture and football and eventually became fluent in Italian. His athletic gifts also allowed him to play the “beautiful game” which ultimately ended with Bryant playing for the local youth team, Cantine Riunite.

In a 2006 interview with Luis Arroyave of the Chicago Tribune, the Hall of Fame stressed that he is not extraordinary in football. As he started out as a goalkeeper, he was later asked to play in midfield as he improved with ball control, dribbling and passing.

He didn’t become manic in his pursuit of basketball until he returned to his homeland. However, those early childhood days of playing European football certainly helped his footwork. O’Neal, in his teammate and opponent’s day, was very impressed with Bryant’s technical performance on the basketball court.

Bryant’s ability to manipulate a defense didn’t come just from his athleticism and jumping shots. He also had his subtle influence in the basic, but often difficult, way of moving the feet. Some of the more technically gifted players like Hakeem Olajuwon, Joel Embiid and Steve Nash brought their soccer lessons to the basketball court.

Sixers F Joel Embiid on how Kobe Bryant influenced his transition from football to basketball. “I started playing basketball because of him.”

Shaquille O’Neal is no longer part owner of the Sacramento Kings

Shaquille O'Neal is no longer a minority owner of the Sacramento Kings. [Photo: A Royal Pain]
Shaquille O’Neal is no longer a minority owner of the Sacramento Kings. [Photo: A Royal Pain]

In 2013, Shaquille O’Neal acquired shares in the Sacramento Kings franchise. While he was part owner of the Kings, he was still associated with the LA Lakers. He announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he would sell his stake with the Kings.

The move is in line with NBA rules, which is necessary for O’Neal to be interested in a sports betting business.

Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein

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