Kobe Bryant played in his last NBA game on Wednesday night dropping in 60 points against the Utah Jazz on the way to a rare Lakers win this season. And prior to the final curtain call many soccer players were paying tribute to the 37-year-old who loves soccer maybe as much as basketball.
His respect and passion for the game developed when he lived in Italy as his father played professional basketball. His fandom carried on throughout his NBA career as an avid AC Milan, his boyhood club, and FC Barcelona, his adopted club, fan and Ronaldinho supporter. This admiration and fandom was not one sided however.
Related Article: Kobe Bryant’s Love for Soccer Will Continue after NBA Retirement
On the night of his final game praises flooded the internet from some of soccer’s biggest stars and teams. Players from Tim Howard, Thierry Henry, and David Beckham to Axel Witsel, Mesuit Ozil, and Neymar all posted tweets and pictures in admiration of the sixty point performance in his final night of a distinguished career.
Hoje é o último jogo dessa lenda! Lá no Ronaldinho.com eu fiz uma carta especial pra esse grande amigo @kobebryant . . Today is the last match of this living legend! Go to ronaldinho.com and see my special message to my great friend @kobebryant
A photo posted by Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (@ronaldinhooficial) on
A photo posted by Nj ?? ? neymarjr (@neymarjr) on
What a privilege! I saw Kobe play. #ThankYouKobe ??????????
— Kaka (@KAKA) April 14, 2016
One of the greatest ? players of all time will end his career! Hats off to what you’ve achieved in your career!?? @kobebryant
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) April 13, 2016
A photo posted by Axel Witsel (@axelwitsel28) on
FC Barcelona posted a tribute video honoring him leading up to the game, FC Bayern, AC Milan, and the USA WNT all paid their respects to the legend as well. This sort of recognition is profound and speaks to the level within athletics, arguably the highest ever, Kobe has reached.
A photo posted by FC Barcelona (@fcbarcelona) on
— Abby Wambach (@AbbyWambach) April 14, 2016
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) April 13, 2016
A photo posted by David Beckham (@davidbeckham) on
A photo posted by Robert Lewandowski (@_rl9) on
— Toni Kroos (@ToniKroos) April 14, 2016
A photo posted by Mario Götze (@gotzemario) on
Unprecedented but certainly earned, Kobe Bryant’s recognition outside of basketball by some of the world’s most recognizable names and organizations is truly special.
What other soccer players have you seen making tributes to Kobe Bryant and his career?