Kobe Bryant’s father played professional basketball in Italy so he grew up learning the game in Europe while most of the NBA came up in the highly competitive youth system, called AAU.  Byrant blames the lack of skill in the NBA on what those players learned while playing in the AAU.

Shay Marie

via ESPN:

“I just think European players are just way more skillful,” Bryant said Friday night after the Los Angeles Lakers’ 109-106 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. “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.”

Bryant was quick to point the finger for the decline of skilled players in the United States.

“AAU basketball,” Bryant said. “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.”

Bryant smiled when asked what type of player he would have become if his family had never moved to Italy and he hadn’t learned how to play the game in Europe.

“I probably wouldn’t be able to dribble with my left and shoot with my left and have good footwork,” Bryant said.