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Kobe Bryant Says Soccer Helps Him See Basketball Differently Than Most Players

Kobe Bryant made this observation on Friday night, after the Lakers’ loss to OKC, but it’s very, very interesting and worth highlighting here.

Bryant was asked about a nifty bounce pass between the legs of Kevin Durant, and he chalked it up to playing soccer as a kid, which he believes helps him see his sport as a more intricate series of moving parts than is typically taught in basketball.

“It’s a really complicated answer, but in America, basketball is really taught in twos — one-two pick-and-roll or a give-and-go or something like that,” he said. “Playing soccer growing up, you really see the game in combinations of threes, sometimes fours and how you play within triangles and how you [move] on the opposite side of the field and working on the backside.

“So you see things in multiple combinations and growing up and playing that, my eye and my brain became accustomed to seeing those combinations of threes and fours versus ones and twos.”


It’s an intriguing theory, and I want it to be legitimate because it’s so simple and logical. Soccer, with so much more space and so many more players, and no timeouts and not much resembling set plays, requires players to think multiple steps ahead and to be aware of what’s going on even outside their field of vision. Geometrically, it’s not just about getting the ball where you want it—it’s about what happens after that. Not just passes, but combinations of passes.

Is there anything to it? No one but Kobe knows how Kobe’s brain works. But as evidence, he offered up the San Antonio Spurs, who “have nothing but Europeans over there that grew up playing soccer.”

And what do you know?



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