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Kobe Bryant Buys Into Italian Team

December 14, 1999

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Kobe Bryant has bought a 50 percent stake in the Italian professional basketball team that his father used to play for.

Bryant, the 21-year-old guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, will be partners with Pasquale Caputo in ownership of Olimpia Milano, which has won 25 Italian League championships.

It is believed to be the first time a professional basketball player has acquired a substantial interest in another pro team. NBA players are prohibited from owning a piece of an NBA team.

``We think it’s great that Kobe is showing support for pro basketball in Italy, where he grew up,″ NBA spokesman Terry Lyons said today.

Bryant attended school in Italy until the eighth grade while his father, Joe, established himself as one of the premier players in the league.

Bryant entered the NBA straight out of high school and was an All-Star by his second season.

``I loved growing up in Italy and have always had a special place in my heart for the country and its people,″ Bryant said in a statement released by his agent, Arn Tellem of SFX Sports Group.

``In fact, Italian is a second language for everyone in our family. My involvement with Olimpia Milano fulfills my desire to reconnect with Italy, while also providing future business opportunities in basketball.″

The agreement calls for the Bryant family to direct basketball operations for Olimpia Milano, a responsibility his father Joe will fulfill as a team vice president.

Kobe Bryant plans to spend several weeks every offseason in Milan to work with his father, make appearances and work with his corporate partners.

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