Kobe Bryant: Beckham already making big impact in USA

Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant believes LA Galaxy ace David Beckham is winning USA sports fans over to soccer.

Bryant, the NBA's Most Valuable Player this season, has been outstanding as he helps the LA Lakers close in on what would be their fourth championship since 2000.

Beckham has been a regular at Lakers games recently and - along with wife Victoria and their three sons - has become close friends with Bryant, 29, and his family.

Bryant told The Sun: "He is a good friend of mine. We shoot the breeze about everything - sport, kids, life. He's just a wonderful guy and they're a wonderful family.

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"We have talked about his life over here and I know the city of LA has embraced him and his family with open arms.

"He can definitely help soccer become established here. He has already had a huge impact.

"It just takes a little time. It is similar to how basketball was overseas 20 years ago.

"But people started participating, picked up basketball and it is now a totally global game.

"Soccer is no different but David is already playing to big crowds everywhere."

The 6ft 6in Laker is a big soccer fan after growing up in Italy, where his father ‘Jellybean' was a professional basketball player. and played soccer from the age of five until he returned to the US in his teens.

Bryant admits he would have tried to become a pro footballer if he had stayed in Europe and would now love to pick up some tips from Becks!

The hoops hero added: "I played soccer all the time in Italy, you almost have to when you're there.

"Once I came back to the States, it obviously wasn't as popular. But soccer definitely helped my basketball - the footwork, the foot speed, just the rhythm of the game.

"I picked up a lot of things from soccer. I like to keep in touch with the game now but it's tough to follow it, especially because of our play-offs.

"I've not had a chance to play soccer with David yet but, sure, one day I'd love to kick a ball around with him - and maybe get him on a basketball court!"

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