Kobe Bryant and his many soccer ties
Kobe Bryant's illustrious 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers comes to an end Wednesday night, when the Black Mamba laces up for the last time to take on the Utah Jazz. While Bryant's work on the court has been the stuff of legends for two decades, he's also a huge soccer fan and played the sport growing up.
As a kid living in Italy, Bryant used to play all the time, and the noted AC Milan and FC Barcelona fan said as recently as January, that he credits soccer for his vision on the basketball court.
Ahead of his final game before retirement, here just a few of his ties to the beautiful game:
Iniesta, Pique star in Barcelona's tribute video to Bryant:
Bryant showing off his Italian for AC Milan:
Bryant with the U.S. women's national team:
Bryant speaking with ESPN's Julie Foudy about soccer in the United States at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil:
Bryant and Andrew Luck in a Panini ad ahead of the 2014 World Cup:
Bryant with Brazil's Kaká:
Bryant with U.S. women's national team's Sydney Leroux:
Bryant meeting Barcelona players in 2011:
Bryant plays in a celebrity soccer game with Alex Morgan, Pep Guardiola, among others:
Bryant welcomes Steven Gerrard to Los Angeles:
Bryant's commercial for Turkish Airlines with Lionel Messi:
And another one:
Bryant meets Ronaldinho in Brazil:
Bryant channeling his inner Ronaldinho in Nike's 2010 World Cup commercial:
LA Sol's Marta, Bryant take penalties on each other:
Bryant shows off his skills, nets a PK at halftime of a Manchester United-Barcelona friendly:
Bryant appears in a commercial for FIFA '16:
It's safe to say that whatever Bryant goes on to do in the next chapter of his life, he'll remain tied to soccer in some capacity.