Relax like an Italian: Go basketball crazy!

smardo samuelsAbove: The Italian professional basketball league is hugely popular among fans (image via Basket Streaming).

No, that’s not a photograph from a recent Cleveland Cavaliers game above.

The athlete in the image is Samardo Samuels, who plays for A-series Italian basketball champions Emporio Armani Olimpia Milano.

Italians are sports crazy and one of their favorite pastimes is basketball, an American import. In Italian it’s called pallacanestro (palla means ball and canestro means basket). But most Italians call it simply basket (pronounced BAHS-keht with an Italian accent).

giorgio armani basketballAbove: That’s Giorgio Armani, center, posing with his team, Emporio Armani Olimpia Milano, the current league champions (image by Bruno Cordioli).

Major league basketball, which is called serie A or A series in Italian, was founded in 1920 and the first championship was held in 1922.

After retiring from the NBA, many top American players move to Italy lured by lucrative contracts.

NBA star Joseph Washington “Jellybean” Bryant played in Italy from 1984-1991 after retiring from the American league. His son, NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, born in 1978, “grew up” in Italy and still speaks Italian to this day.

The current reigning champion, Emporio Armani Olimpia Milano, has a wonderful English-language website that’s updated regularly.

It’s a great resource for following one of Italy’s favorite teams.

And of course, being that Italians are always fashion-conscious, it’s sponsored by Giorgio Armani! How cool is that?

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