Anderson Varejao has been serving as something of a World Cup correspondent for the NBA in his native Brazil. In the following clip (transcribed below), he sits down with Kobe Bryant to discuss the Los Angeles Lakers guard's passion for soccer, his experience in Brazil and what he sees happening in the World Cup moving forward. To see what the NBA is doing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup follow #NBAINBRAZIL. To stay up to date with all the latest NBA news, follow @nbauk on twitter or visit facebook.com/nbauk.
Varejao: "Can you tell me a little bit about your passion for soccer? How did it grow [in Italy]?"
Bryant: “Well you know growing up in Italy from the age of 6 to 14, at the time Serie A - that was the best league in the world. All the best players were there; Maradona was there, Baggio was there, Van Basten was there. So when I was growing up that became a passion of mine so I was literally playing football every single day.”
Varejao: "So of course you want Italy to win the World Cup?"
Bryant: “Well, yeah. See, that's where I'm conflicted, because I root for the USA, right? But I'm always for Forza Azzurri, it's always there a little bit.”
Varejao: "What do you think about the Brazilian team?"
Bryant: “Passion, passion. Passion for their culture. Passion for their country and what their culture represents. And I think the world is missing out. The next 3-4 years are a great opportunity for the rest of the world to see what Brazil is all about and what their culture is all about, because I believe that passion can really inspire everybody else.”
Varejao: "Thanks about that. That's what I think about Brazil, too. So who do you think is going to win the World Cup?"
Bryant: “A couple of years ago I had Germany picked to win it, 'cause I felt like their young players were developing and everyone would be in their primes. Watching how Brazil has handled the pressure, particularly of the first match [a 3-1 win over Croatia], it's going to be hard to bet against them. I think we'll wind up seeing a Brazil vs. Argentina final and that's going to be an epic final.”