Friday , Dec , 19 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Kobe Bryant: NYC, Mike D’Antoni Are Big Attractions

 Kobe Bryant says he expects the Knicks to be major players in the 2010 free-agency sweepstakes. And one of the reasons for that is Mike D’Antoni.

"Obviously it’s a huge market," Bryant said after the Lakers’ entertaining 116-114 win over the Knicks on Tuesday night at Staples Center. "But players really love D’Antoni, love playing for him."

Bryant and D’Antoni have a relationship that goes back to when the Knicks coach, a former Italian League star, was Bryant’s idol growing up in Italy while his father, Joe (Jellybean) Bryant, played in the country. Kobe and D’Antoni were together on the gold medal-winning Olympic team this summer in Beijing and, despite a few past playoff wars between the Lakers and Suns, the two have maintained strong mutual respect.

After Tuesday’s game, Bryant came away impressed with the new-look Knicks under D’Antoni.,0,4854396.story?track=rss