With the NBA lockout in effect, the Lakers have no control over what any players under contract do during down time. With that extra freedom, Kobe Bryant is trying soccer on for size. Kobe has been added to the roster of Mia Hamm & Nomar Garciaparra's Celebrity Soccer Challenge this Sunday morning in Washington, D.C.
Despite being born in Philadelphia, Bryant spent lots of time in Italy, and while traveling to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup, he told CNN he's a huge soccer fan.
"AC Milan was always my favorite team growing up," he said. "It actually started in Italy when I used to go to the basketball courts to play by myself and you used to have the little goalposts underneath the basket.
"I'd show up wanting to play basketball and there would be 12 kids waiting to have a match. They just put me in goal because I had these long arms and long legs, and I just had to stop everything that came my way. Then as months went on, they finally let me out on the field a little bit."
Bryant is by far the biggest name playing in the event. Other "celebrities" include Tony Reali, host of ESPN's Around the Horn, and local D.C. NBC 4 sports anchor Dan Hellie.
Alex Morgan headlines four U.S. Women's National Soccer players who are part of the event, which will be played at Kastles Stadium at The Wharf, a 3,000-seat tennis stadium on the Southwest Waterfront in Washington