After twanging an Achilles and prematurely ending his NBA season a month or three ago, L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant has been spending his summer in Italy at AC Milan's vaunted Milanello training complex in a bid to get back into fighting shape -- where it just so happens he revealed he's a lifelong Rossoneri fan.
The basketball icon (sorry, that's as far as TP's knowledge stretches) was presented with his very own complimentary "Bryant, No. 24" jersey and was met at the Milanello reception by players Andrea Poli and Daniele Bonera, before signing a flurry of autographs and taking pictures with various members of the staff.
Bryant has come forward about his love of soccer over the past few years, though he has also gone on record in the past stating that his love of the game and of the Rossoneri in particular stems from moving to Italy as a 6-year-old in the mid-1980s (when Milan's all-conquering side were big news, to put it mildly). Bryant's father played basketball professionally in Italy, and apparently dabbled with a little bit of football on the side.
He told the club's in-house television channel Milan Channel: "It's an honour for me to be here and it was always a dream of mine to come to Milanello.
"I watched Milan since I was a kid. Milan has always been my favorite team and it's always in my heart. I keep a Milan shirt and scarf in my locker room in L.A. so I can look at them every day.
"It's difficult to say when I'll return. I have to work hard. I'm becoming stronger every day and I hope to return in November or December -- Nigel De Jong sustained the same injury as I did and I hope that the result of my recovery will be the same as his."
Ooh, you name-dropping so-and-so! No prizes for guessing who Kobe's favourite Milan player is, by the way. "[Mario] Balotelli is a friend of mine," said the Lakers legend. "I want him to become even greater than he is right now."
Bryant also hinted that he's likely to return to Milanello once fully healed and take part in a training session: "Yes, why not [come and train here]? I'll come here and play and have fun. You can make me the goalkeeper and shoot at me all day."
At 6-foot-6, we can imagine he'd come in fairly handy in goal. Couldn't be any worse than Dida was, eh?