Nicolo Barella said he is inspired by Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James and former NBA MVP Allen Iverson as the Inter midfielder discussed his love of basketball.
Barella has established himself as one of the best midfielders in Serie A and Europe amid Inter’s Scudetto charge this season.
The 24-year-old Inter and Italy star has scored three Serie A goals and supplied five assists for the Nerazzurri, who are nine points clear atop the table.
Barella revealed he wears the number 23 jersey because of four-time NBA champion James, while also highlighting his admiration for Philadelphia 76ers great Iverson.
“I played basketball for four years. There was a lot of competition in my family, but my cousins are better than me,” Barella told Sky Sport Basketball Conversation.
“I discuss basketball with Romelu Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi and Lautaro Martinez. We follow NBA. When I join the national team, I talk about it with Davide Calabria, Mattia Perin and Giorgio Chiellini.
Tutte le immagini della vittoria nerazzurra in casa del Torino!
— Inter (@Inter) March 14, 2021
“Allen Iverson’s jersey was one of the first ones I bought. Seeing someone like him dominating among the giants was an important source of inspiration for me. In addition to his technical skills, his attitude impressed me.
“I wear the number 23 shirt, because LeBron James also inspires me. I used to have the number 24 because it’s the day when my daughter was born. I had a little argument with my wife for this change, but in the end, she understood.
“What impresses me about LeBron is the fact that he manages to change a team, bringing all his team-mates to the highest level.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is the LeBron James of football. He has talent, desire to work hard, and longevity and he brings his desire to win in every team.
“Winning the NBA is like winning the Champions League, it’s more important than a Scudetto, even if I hope I can win one sooner or later.”