Las Vegas Sun: Kobe Bryant leaves the Thomas & Mack Center court after a FIBA Americas basketball game and speaks Spanish to his wife, Vanessa, whom he calls Mamacita, and two young daughters.

In Italian, he instructs his kids to begin eating, mangia, and playfully cusses out U.S. national team assistant coach Mike D’Antoni. He writes in Latin on his Web site. From his Lakers teammates, he’s learning French (Ronny Turiaf) and Serbian (Vladimir Radmanovic and Sasha Vujacic).

He picked up some Portuguese from Ronaldinho, the famous FC Barcelona soccer player whom Bryant has befriended and watched, as one of 100,000 fans, at the Nou Camp Stadium in Spain.

Bryant brings an arsenal of talent to the U.S. national team as it seeks to end an embarrassing stretch on the global stage at the Olympics in China next month.

He also brings something intangible to an American squad that has underestimated recent opponents and paid a heavy price for those blunders. For the first time, the United States has not played in the championship game of three consecutive international tournaments.

Bryant has a curiosity about the world, formed growing up in Italy, that teammates who have been embarrassed by Greece and Argentina don’t comprehend.

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