Los Angeles Lakers superstar guard Kobe Bryant was at FC Barcelona's practice at the StubHub Center in Los Angeles on July 20. He revealed to FCBarcelona.com he has been following the club for 10 years.
Make no mistake about it, Kobe Bryant is one staunch supporter of FC Barcelona.
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According to Jaime Casas of FC Barcelona's official website, Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar guard was at the club's practice for the International Champions Cup at the StubHub Center in Los Angeles on June 20.
Bryant revealed to Casas he's been following FC Barcelona for quite some time.
"I have been following the side for 10 years," Bryant said.
Bryant had his photo taken with several players, retired Brazilian right back Juliano Belletti, FC director of sporting institutional relations Albert Soler, FC Barcelona deputy president Juanjo Castillo and several of the team's trophies, per Casas.
Castillo asked Bryant how Spanish NBA star Pau Gasol, his former Lakers teammate who is now playing for the Chicago Bulls, is doing, per FCBareclona.com.
Casas says Bryant "answered in perfect Spanish" and told Castillo he still keeps in touch with Gasol.
Bryant took in FC Barcelona's practice with a lot of enthusiasm on Monday, waving to players Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta as well as manager Luis Enrique. Bryant even cracked jokes about him suiting up for FC Barcelona once he retires from the Lakers, per Casas.
Bryant also told Casas that Gasol has long been urging him to watch a live FC Barcelona match at Camp Nou:
"I have never seen a game at Camp Nou and Pau usually sends me messages urging me to go. It is something on my list and I am excited by the prospect. I love watching (Lionel) Messi, Iniesta and the rest of the squad."
Later on, Bryant visited his daughter Natalia's soccer team, The Mamba Team, during practice at the StubHub Center, per FCBarcelona.com.
Bryant told FIFA.com last year during the height of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil that soccer is his favorite sport dating back to his childhood days in Italy:
"I grew up in Italy. From the age from six to 14 I played soccer every day. It is actually my favorite sport.
"For sure! It has a lot to do with my travel and I wanted to see some great matches. I want to see the best teams and to see one of the best players. It is a great opportunity to be able to see that here."
Bryant's interest in football is not limited to the field.
Last September, Italian newspaper La Gazzetta (via The Los Angeles Times' Eric Pincus) reported that attorney Joe Tacopina was trying to assemble an ownership team consisting of Bryant and Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo which aims to buy Bologna FC 1909.
Principal owner Albano Guaraldi was reportedly trying to sell the club due to its recent financial struggles, per La Gazzetta.
The18.com's Stacey Mickles says the situation is so bad, Bologna FC 1909 has since been relegated to Serie B status.
Since news of Bryant's interest in Bolgona FC 1909 first broke out in Sept. 2014, there has been no word on him becoming one of the club's owners.
As for hs favorite team, FC Barcelona, it will take on Major League Soccer's (MLS) Los Angeles Galaxy in an exhibition match at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on July 21. Despite the absence of international sensations Neymar and Messi, at least 90,000 fans are expected to attend, per LakersNation.com's Ryan Ward.
The 36-year-old Bryant has averaged 25.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 1,280 career regular-season games for the Los Angeles Lakers, per ESPN stats.
BEHIND THE SCENES Kobe Bryant meets FC... by fcbarcelona
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