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Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant has slammed the development of young American players and insists that their European counterparts are more skilful.
Bryant has placed blame on the coaching at AAU level for the discrepancy and not only was he highly critical of their coaching methods but he was equally keen to praise the development stages that the European players go through.
“I just think European players are just way more skillful,” Bryant said Friday night.
“They are just taught the game the right way at an early age. … They’re more skillful. It’s something we really have to fix. We really have to address that. We have to teach our kids to play the right way.”
When asked as to who was to blame for that issue, Bryant didn’t hesitate to give his opinion.
“AAU basketball. Horrible, terrible AAU basketball. It’s stupid. It doesn’t teach our kids how to play the game at all so you wind up having players that are big and they bring it up and they do all this fancy crap and they don’t know how to post. They don’t know the fundamentals of the game. It’s stupid.”
Bryant was born in Philadelphia but moved to Italy when he was 6 as his dad, former NBA player Joe Bryant, continued his career in Milan.
Kobe spent his childhood in Italy before moving back to the United States in 1991, and he insists that his time in Europe played a pivotal role in developing his game and allowing him to have such a successful career in the NBA.
“When you have limitations and you understand your limitations and you stay within yourself, you can be great,” Bryant added.
“You know what you can do and what you can’t do. In America, it’s a big problem for us because we’re not teaching players how to play all-around basketball. That’s why you have Pau and Marc [Gasol], and that’s the reason why 90 percent of the Spurs’ roster is European players, because they have more skill.”
“I probably wouldn’t be able to dribble with my left and shoot with my left and have good footwork,” Bryant said of what he would be like if he had stayed in the US.
“I was kind of fortunate because when I was growing up in Italy, the Red Auerbachs and the Tex Winters and all those great coaches were doing clinics and camps in Europe. They were teaching all the club coaches, and the club coaches were following their advice and their fundamentals like the bible, and they were teaching all of us kids that type of stuff. Me, Manu [Ginobili] and all these guys that grew up around that same time, we’re a product of that. It’s a big difference.”