Kobe Bryant was reflective Friday when talking about Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who is hospitalized with an undisclosed form of cancer.

"He's meant everything to me in my career in terms of taking a risk on a 17-year-old kid coming out of high school and then believing in me my entire career. And then for the game itself, the brand of basketball that he implemented in Showtime carried the league," Bryant said at a news conference during the NBA's All-Star weekend.

The Times reported Thursday that Buss, 79, is in the intensive care unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Several current and former Lakers players, including Bryant, Pau Gasol and Magic Johnson, have visited Buss. A Lakers spokesman said the team has no plans to comment on Buss' health.

"You think about the rivalry that took place between the Lakers and the Celtics and what that did for the global outreach of the game. I mean, it reached me and I was all the way in Italy and I was only 6 years old," Bryant said.

Bryant spent many of his formative years in Italy as his father, Joe "Jelly Bean" Bryant, played overseas.

The Lakers in 1996 traded Vlade Divac to Charlotte for Bryant, shortly after he'd been drafted out of high school. The Lakers have gone to seven NBA Finals with Bryant, winning five titles.

Bryant was asked Friday about Buss' overall imprint on the game. "It's beyond measure. There's nothing you can do to really define it. What he's done consistently, it's tough to really find a match for that in any sport. He's been a model of consistency," Bryant said.