Despite a short stint with arguably the greatest AAU team ever – The 1994 New Jersey Patterson team with Kobe, Vince Carter and Tim Thomas – Kobe Bryant HATES AAU basketball and the people who “profit off the poor kids” who play in it.
“Horrible, terrible AAU basketball. It’s stupid. It doesn’t teach our kids how to play the game at all so you wind up having players that are big and they bring it up and they do all this fancy crap and they don’t know how to post. They don’t know the fundamentals of the game. It’s stupid.”
Those were Bryant’s words about AAU basketball after Friday’s loss to Memphis. Kobe also complimented European players and talked about how his game would have been different had he not grown up in Italy.
“I probably wouldn’t be able to dribble with my left and shoot with my left and have good footwork,” Bryant said. “I was kind of fortunate because when I was growing up in Italy, the Red Auerbachs and the Tex Winters and all those great coaches were doing clinics and camps in Europe. They were teaching all the club coaches, and the club coaches were following their advice and their fundamentals like the bible, and they were teaching all of us kids that type of stuff. Me, Manu [Ginobili] and all these guys that grew up around that same time, we’re a product of that. It’s a big difference.”
“I just think European players are just way more skillful. They are just taught the game the right way at an early age. … They’re more skillful. It’s something we really have to fix. We really have to address that. We have to teach our kids to play the right way.”
Here’s some more quotes from Kobe on AAU basketball via ESPN,
“When you have limitations and you understand your limitations and you stay within yourself, you can be great,” Kobe Bryant said. “You know what you can do and what you can’t do. In America, it’s a big problem for us because we’re not teaching players how to play all-around basketball. That’s why you have Pau and Marc [Gasol], and that’s the reason why 90 percent of the Spurs’ roster is European players, because they have more skill.”
“Teach players the game at an early age and stop treating them like cash cows for everyone to profit off of. That’s how you do that. You have to teach them the game. Give them instruction.”
“That’s a deep well because then you start cutting into people’s pockets,” Bryant on a solution “People get really upset when you start cutting into their pockets because all they do is try to profit off these poor kids. There’s no quick answer.”
ROBERT HORRY ON AAU
Another ex Championship Laker who hates, hates, hates, hates AAU basketball is his Kobe’s former teammate Robert Horry.
FYI, many current and former NBA players coach and/or are very hands-on with AAU teams. That list includes Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Ty Lawson, Anthony Davis, Jerry Stackhouse and TJ Ford among others. Kobe doesn’t do anything on the AAU scene but does have an annual basketball camp for kids.