Italian team retires Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 in tribute

RIETI, Italy (AP) — The first Italian basketball team that Kobe Bryant’s father played for has retired the Lakers superstar’s jersey to the rafters in a pregame ceremony. Fans of NPC Rieti held up a huge banner in Italian before the game against Scafati in Italy’s second division that read: “You began to play here and as an adult you made us dream. Our colors are with you in the sky.” Then a gold Lakers’ jersey with Bryant’s No. 24 was lifted to the ceiling of the PalaSojourner arena. Rieti was where Kobe’s dad Joe Bryant made his Italian basketball debut in 1984 when Kobe was 6. Joe Bryant went on to play for three other teams in Italy and Kobe grew up in the country until moving back to Pennsylvania for high school.