Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times (blog) reports:

kobe bryant

Had he remained in Italy, Kobe Bryant may very well have been honing his footwork on the pitch instead of the hardwood.

He’ll have a chance to do that Sunday when he appears in the Celebrity Soccer Challenge at Kastles Stadium in Washington D.C., an event sponsored by former U.S. women’s soccer player Mia Hamm and her husband, ex-Dodger Nomar Garciaparra. But incidentally enough, Bryant may not have been making a tokenĀ  appearance on the soccer field had he seriously kept up with the sport.

Sure, it’s easy to imagine the uber competitive and athletic Bryant dazzling fans wearing an A.C. Milan uniform (his favorite childhood team) or an FC Barcelona jersey (his current favorite team). Bryant, however, sensed his skills kicking a soccer ball nowhere matched what he could do with a basketball, a sport he got serious aboutĀ  once his family moved to Philadelphia in 1991.

“I wasn’t anything spectacular,” Bryant once told the Chicago Tribune’s Luis Arroyave. “I would have moments of doing something crazy that really wasn’t done on purpose. I’d pull off a nice move that was unintentional.

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