LOS ANGELES -- The highlight went viral immediately, but Kobe Bryant didn't think it was a big deal. The Los Angeles Lakers star passed the ball through Kevin Durant's legs because, Bryant said, it was the only way he could feed a teammate for an open jumper.
But Bryant credited his ability to make that pass, which came in the first half of the Lakers' 117-113 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, to his background in another sport: soccer.
"That’s just soccer stuff," Bryant said with a laugh. "Basketball gets a lot of 'oohs and ahhs' from it, but when you’re out on the pitch, if that’s what you have, that’s what you take. That’s what I had, that’s what I took. He kind of looked at me and I said, ‘Dude, that was the pass to make.’ But, yeah, that comes up from my days in Italy."
Bryant expounded on how soccer has helped him as a basketball player.
"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 not always easy to play with teammates who can't see the game in the same way, Bryant said.
"It’s very difficult, which is why the [San Antonio] Spurs have nothing but Europeans over there that grew up playing soccer," Bryant said with a laugh.