Kobe Bryant will play the final game of his 20-year career for the Los Angeles Lakers on 13 April against Utah Jazz and his primary sponsor Nike have gone out of their way to commemorate the occasion.
The Los Angeles Lakers guard will walk away with five NBA titles, having secured his place not only among Lakers icons like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Jerry West but also in the pantheon of NBA greats, still presided over by Michael Jordan.
Nike has created a “Mamba Day” campaign to honour Kobe and, as a part of the celebration, the sports brand released a video featuring 34 Nike athletes paying tribute to the Number 24.
"Love him or hate him, the Black Mamba’s prolific and successful career has fueled both joy and anger. In a nod to this duality, as the clock winds down on Kobe Bryant’s career, NIKE, Inc. is celebrating one of its most accomplished athletes with a befitting global tribute," the brand said in a statement.
"Nike-sponsored athletes worldwide will celebrate the player many love to hate by wearing black and gold shoes, a metaphoric nod to Bryant’s golden career fading to black on April 13," the statement said.
From tennis stars like Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal to golf pros Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, the video has athletes expressing what they really think about the NBA legend. Their replies range from awestruck praise to envy-inspired hate for the Black Mamba.
“He pissed me off a lot,” says fellow-NBA player Kevin Durant in the video. Asked to describe Kobe in a word, he doesn't hold back - "asshole".
Brazilian footballer Neymar Jr says, "He wanted to be better than himself" and calls Kobe a "genius".
The other NBA players share some interesting anecdotes about Kobe in the clip and they make for a great watch. Roger Federer talks about the one time he turned his name into an emoji - "Ko and a bee" and thinks it was quite funny.
The video also features Kyrie Irving, Russell Wilson, Allyson Felix, Elena Delle Donne, Odell Beckham Jr, Paul George, Paul Rodriguez, Natalie Anchonwa, Kirani James, Michelle Wie, Richard Sherman, LeBron James, Phil Jackson, Sanya Richards-Ross, Clay Mathews, NaVorro Bowman, Brooks Koepka, Rob Gronkowski, Ali Krieger, Gerard Pique, Eric Koston, Shao Ting, Javier Mascherano, Yi Jianlian, Andres Iniesta, Marcus Mariota and Mo Farah.
Watch the entire video below.