Naomi Osaka is one of the brightest young stars in sports, so it’s no surprise Kobe Bryant wanted to take her on at her game.
On Wednesday (February 25), the tennis champion posted a video of a practice session she held with Los Angeles Lakers legend. The clip, which Osaka shared via Twitter, showed her and Bryant trading shots on a tennis court until Kobe’s hits the net.
“He wasn’t THAT bad at tennis,” Osaka joked in the tweet, before adding a series of emojis. “Haha love you bro.”
During Monday’s public memorial service, Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka remembered Bryant’s competitiveness, particularly in tennis and said that when Kobe couldn’t beat him on the court, he hired a personal trainer to get better.
“So what is the Black Mamba doing the next few times I arrived at the club? There he was waiting for me already with a full sweat,” Pelinka said. “As his tennis skills exploded, I learned that he had secretly reached out to the club’s pro for private lessons and then didn’t share any of them with me.”
Osaka’s reference to Pelinka’s speech is hilarious in itself and just another reminder of Bryant’s “Mamba Mentality.”
This is the second time Osaka has taken to social media to remember Kobe Bryant. After news surfaced that Kobe, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people perished in a helicopter crash, she posted an emotional letter to the NBA legend.
“Hey … I don’t really know what to do so I’m writing you this letter,” Osaka wrote. “Thank you for being you. Thank you for inspiring people everywhere, you have no idea how many hearts you’ve touched. Thank you for being so humble and not acting as big as you are.”
She continued: “Thank you for caring and checking up on me after my hard losses,” Osaka said. “Thank you for randomly texting me ‘You ok?’, cause you know how f—-d up my head is sometimes. Thank you for teaching me so much in the short time I’ve been lucky enough to have known you. Thank you for existing. You will forever be my big bro/mentor/inspiration. Love you.”
Watch the clip of Osaka taking on Kobe in tennis below.