Naomi Osaka Shares Video of Her Match With Kobe Bryant After His Tennis Skills Are Mentioned at Memorial
By Paige Gawley
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Naomi Osaka is recalling the time she spent with Kobe Bryant. In a tweet on Monday, the 22-year-old tennis pro shared a video of her and the late NBA great playing tennis together. Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among the nine people killed in a helicopter crash last month.
The clip showed Osaka and Bryant volleying back and forth for a bit, before the video ends with Bryant hitting a ball into the net.
"He wasn’t THAT bad at tennis haha love you bro," Osaka joked.
Osaka's post was in reference to a speech that Rob Pelinka, the general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers, gave at Monday's memorial for Bryant, which was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
"When Kobe retired from playing basketball, people would often ask me how I thought he would fuel his competitive drive. The answers came in a couple of surprising ways. The first was in a new sport -- tennis," Pelinka said. "Right after Kobe stopped playing for the Lakers, we took up playing tennis at a local private club in Newport Beach."
"We began having epic one-on-one battles. I picked up the game faster than him, so early on he would often fall behind. And that did not sit well with Kobe at all," he continued. "What does the Black Mamba do? The next few times I arrived at the club, there he was waiting for me already with the full sweat."
Pelinka came to find out that Bryant "had secretly reached out to the club's pro for private lessons and didn't share any of it with me."
"Typical Mamba Mentality," he said. "We loved our matches and stories and memories we would share on those beautiful California days."
Watch the video below for more of the emotional speeches at Bryant's memorial.