Former NBA and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant visited the Philippines for his Mamba Mentality 2016 tour recently. The Mamba Mentality tour, sponsored by Nike, is his first visit to the Philippines since his retirement from the league last April.
In his visit to the Philippines, the country has shown it has not forgotten him since his last visit almost three years ago.
In a country that has taken basketball so much as its national sport, Kobe Bryant’s return has become a sensation. That was especially seen when he appeared to a crowd of over 10,000 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Manila, Philippines last Saturday. Even after his NBA retirement, the Filipino fans showed that they will still be supporting the former Lakers’ franchise player.
For Bryant, as well as the crowd, it was an emotional moment. More so as the Araneta Coliseum has been the site where Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier had one of the biggest fights in boxing in 1975. That Saturday another one had been added to the place’s history, and that was the Mamba Mentality Tour by Bryant.
ALSO READ: Toronto Raptors might lose DeMar DeRozan
It has been the seventh time that Bryant has been to the Philippines but even after so many visits, the people have not forgotten him. In the Smart Araneta Coliseum a new banner was added wherein an image of Bryant walking to the locker room was shown. At the bottom of the image were the words “Mamba Mentality Tour.”
A highlight of the night was when Bryant came out to the crowd, who greeted him with lit smart phones as a welcome for him.
Prior to his appearance at the Smart Araneta Coliseum he had a press conference at the Shangri-La hotel at The Fort. There he said that he was glad to be back in the Philippines as he reestablished his connection with the people, as spin.ph reports.
ALSO READ: Lin, Barnes signing with Orlando Magic?
“It’s good to be back,” Bryant said. “It’s exciting. It’s always fun to come here.”
Bryant also said that he was glad to see the passion the people have for basketball. He also gave advice to Gilas (Philippine basketball national team), which hope to go to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics, the Philippine Star said in its report. He said that the team has to believe in itself. Another point he said was to constantly practice.
Here are exclusive pictures of Kobe Bryant in his recent visit to the Philippines (Click image for larger photos) during the Mamba Mentality Camp in Manila featuring 24 trainees.
Though Kobe Bryant is not up to coaching an NBA team, he said that he would think of owning one though not in an active state. He also said that he would prefer telling stories about the game than coaching since in that way he could reach millions. After the Smart Araneta Coliseum appearance Saturday night he held the Kobe’s Academy where he trained a select number of people.